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  • Writer's picturethecommutingwriter

Things my Beta readers taught me

At the end of last year, I submitted my WIP Acanthus to its first major round of critique with some amazing, amazing Beta readers. I was terrified and so very, very glad I did it.

Their feedback was incorporated into my final edit, and I thought I’d share some of the things I learned:

1. The reader doesn’t know what’s going on in your brain. No, duh, right? But seriously, don’t be scared to have your character internalise thoughts more, especially if it’s in first person.

2. World building. You probably need more of it. I’m guilty of favouring character development and plotting over world building. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get away with it.

3. Supporting characters almost always get the most love and attention, so make sure they’re as fleshed out as your MCs. One of my characters was universally disliked (this is okay) but felt one-dimensional to most (this is not).

4. Irrespective of genre, every reader has different tastes and will want different things. Some of my betas loved the romance sub-plot, some liked the action, others liked the mystery. Keep this in mind when processing their feedback.

5. Look for themes in feedback but don’t fear ideas that differ to others. Embrace it with a warm hug. 95% of my feedback was similar, but that 5%... that’s where the most change occurs. I’ve acted on detracting comments just as much as the universal ones. You have to trust your gut.

6. Try and have diversity with your Betas. Their different backgrounds, cultures, and jobs will give you more insight than you ever dreamt of.

7. Finally—your story is not as bad as you think it is… but there are so many ways to make it better!

Have you used Betas before? Tell me your tips in the comments!

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