Why CPs and Beta Readers Save the World

Now that I have your attention, let's talk revising!

I'm sure you've been actively working on your revisions (or actively putting off your revisions), and eventually you will come to the point where you feel like you've done everything you can do. You've read through that manuscript (both aloud and in your head) so many times you can practically recite it in your sleep, you've convinced yourself multiple times that this is the greatest thing to happen to you since meeting your hero (hi, Steve) and that it's absolute trash and you may as well burn it now, depending on the day. You've gone through every tip you know, targeting passive voice and overused words like they are members of HYDRA. You did it all.

So, that means you're good to go? Right?

Absolutely not.

Because, when it comes to our own work, things fly right over our heads.

We completely miss them. Which is why having a fresh set of eyes on your work can really help.

The rest of the YAvengers have been giving some really good post-drafting tips that you can do yourself, so I'm going to go a bit more in-depth on getting help from other writers/readers. Because I'm a team player, and used to playing well with others. For the most part.

Anyway, what I'm talking about are critique partners and beta readers. Otherwise known as superheroes, life-savers, and miracle workers. Because these people may tear apart your manuscript in ways you didn't even know were possible, but they really will take it to the next level. I'm talking a Steve Rogers before-and-after kind of transformation.

Both critique partners and beta readers are invaluable, but whether you want to use one over the other or both really depends on what kind of feedback you're looking for.

A beta reader will give you feedback from a reader's perspective. Sort of like a review before your book can even dream of actually being published. Which is great. Because, when it comes down to it, who matters most besides you, the writer? That's right, the reader. It's so easy for us aspiring novelists to get caught up in the if I can just get this agent/editor/publisher to love me, everything will be okay. But, ultimately, the book ends up in the hands of the reader, so getting a preview of what works and what doesn't from that perspective can really help.

On the other hand, a critique partner will give you feedback from a writer's perspective. They've been through the same thing you have, and they will make sure your novel is where it needs to be. Whether it be the characters, plot development, voice, or the stupid grammar and spelling mistakes that embarrass you for hours after. They will ask you the questions you weren't prepared to answer, and see all the things you missed. Normally, you can exchange services and critique their work as they critique yours. Which is especially great, considering we can't all be like Tony Stark and have enough money to buy our own team of editors.

Either way, the beta reader or critique partner will take all the crap in your writing that you are slightly embarrassed to have left, and help you make it better.

It isn't always easy to find a good critique partner or beta reader. People have different tastes, Not everyone will be the best choice for your novel. Sometimes, trying to find the right critique partner can feel a little bit like online dating.

And, if you are like me, that is definitely not something you're great at.

But have fun, and take it slow. Exchange a few chapters and see how it goes. It may take a few tries, but soon enough, you might have your very own team of superheroes on call to critique each others work, and therefore, save the world. (Trust me, it's definitely related.)


1 comment:

  1. I need to find a beta reader who isn't much into fantasy to read my novel, to push me out of my comfort zone... I have a couple of people on Nanowrimo who normally help me out, but most of them are fantasy fans... any ideas?