Monday, November 28, 2011

Beta Block

I’ve long since come to the understanding that I’m not going to agree with every beta. That would be impossible. Still, I never want to disregard someone’s hard work. Whenever I get feedback that is a bit hard to take, I always take a few days, weeks, or sometimes months, and come back to it with fresh eyes and an open mind. If I still find the comments off, or bizarre, or just completely out of left field, then I disregard them. Sometimes I don’t need days or weeks or months. I know instantly that I’m not going to heed the comment.

My most recent venture into Beta Land was with someone I’ve never worked with. I want so desperately to form a core group of good betas, but I’m not sure how to do that other than to give strangers a chance. Yeah, you can read their sample work, and like it enough to say, ‘okay, you seem to have some writing chops, take a whack at my work.’ But in the end, it’s still a person you don’t really know pawing over your manuscript. This is what we as writers have to do, so I’m not really disputing this process. I lucked up three times and found betas who give honest, constructive criticism—beta’s who have helped me immensely. One is sadly no longer with us, Zellie, whom I miss dearly. The other is Tere and the third is Abby. I’m looking for two more to have a core group of four. I don’t need a like mind, because sometimes someone who thinks differently will see things I miss. I just need some good tough love.

So tell me, do you debate the disagreements with your beta? Generally, I don’t. Unless I truly don’t understand her point, or I think she has misinterpreted something I’ve written. Otherwise, I don’t bother.

If any of you out there are interested in swapping manuscripts with me, let me know...or should I be asking for a crit partner? Do you think there is a difference? I’m nearly done my current WIP and will need a reader/critter sometime after the new year!

Hope everyone survived the tryptophan coma!


Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for the mention, Karen. You're an awesome beta, but even more, I loved reading your stories. So maybe I'm biased. ;)

If there's a comment I don't agree with, even after letting it simmer, I usually try to dig deeper. To figure out WHY the critter made the comment, and if there's another way I can make things more clear without sacrificing my "vision".

I think most manuscripts can benefit from a dose of tough love every now and again! emphasis on the "love". And on the "tough". ;)

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm also looking for a group of crit partners/betas. My WIP is still woefully under construction, though. I have a few people I respect enough to hand over my baby -- but who knows if they'll be available when I need them?

Abby Annis said...

Thanks for the beta love, Karen! Sorry I'm late. I've been slacking A LOT on blogging, so I just saw your post.

I loved beta reading for you and would be happy to do it again. And your insights on my story have been so helpful, even if it took me forever to stop being stubborn and realize just how right you were. :)

Usually, if I strongly disagree with a comment, it's about something that needs to be changed but I'm too close to be objective. Eventually, I do come around and accept the change, though it may take me a while. The comments I simply disagree with without any emotional reaction are usually the comments I end up disregarding.

tamw said...

Hey. This is Callie/Tammy (Zellie's friend, I critiqued for you when we first started Chimera Crits)I have a great crit partner, but she's taking a little break.

I'd be interested in working with you if you're still looking for someone. My WIP is coming up on its end, but the whole beginning needs to be reworked. sigh. Word count issues. Anyway, some fresh eyes would probably help on knowing what I can afford to cut. I'd be happy to take a look at whatever you have/need help with, although I'm not available till after the holidays. Anyway, let me know. :)

I know I was supposed to crit for you right before Zellie got really sick. I swear I'm not usually that unreliable, I know you understand that it was just a really difficult time, like it was for you too I'm sure. Anyway, I'm usually pretty good about getting stuff back in a timely manner.

To answer your question, I'm really good about taking criticism, as long as its nicely worded. :) I don't have a hard time knowing what to throw away and what to keep. One of my biggest problems with writing is a tendency to be too wordy, so I'm actually always grateful when my crit partner is like "hey! Cut it down!" haha.