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AllieKat
10-18-2009, 02:22 AM
I love getting beta reader feedback on stories. Sometimes, I don't agree with some of the comments. Such as for instance when a beta tells me to use fewer fragments. I consider using fragments to be part of my style.

Sometimes betas give suggestions and corrections that are more personal preference than gospel truth. (I know, because I've done it, and I'm always very careful to add that this is my opinion, and you should do what you want.)

I feel honor bound to listen to my betas (after all, they took the time and energy to read, comment, and suggest). But sometimes I feel like it changes my style.

Is there a better way to handle this? Should I ignore them sometimes? Especially if the beta reader will see my story when it's done, I don't feel free to do this without alienating them. Which I don't want to do. Even if I have to cut out fragments. :e2writer:

Libbie
10-18-2009, 02:25 AM
Only feel honor-bound to listen to them in as far as you appreciate their feedback. You don't have to make the changes they suggest. Like you said, one man's sentence fragment is another's voice. It's not going to strike every reader the same way.

It's always good to hear different perspectives on one's writing, but you shouldn't feel like you have to accept all their criticisms. :)

backslashbaby
10-18-2009, 02:39 AM
Really consider what they say, but so many things are subjective you're bound to not use some advice. Don't worry at all about them seeing that you didn't use their advice! Unless it's a group project or something ;)

Misa Buckley
10-18-2009, 02:44 AM
AllieKat, this should be something you raise with your beta reader.

Usually beta readers will say that the changes they made are only their opinion. I know I do. Then again, I've usually found out what level critique is required first - whether it's just a read-through or a detailed pick-apart.

jjacobs
10-18-2009, 02:58 AM
You don't have to take all of the advice a beta reader gives you, but you should at least consider it all... more than once. Beta readers are a set of fresh eyes. They don't know your story, which gives them the advantage of pointing out confusing parts, plot holes, and various other mistakes. If you disagree with their advice the first time you read it, then sleep on it and read it again. A lot of times they're probably right and you're too stubborn to change what you've written (I suffer from this problem).

With that said, there are times when you've read it three or four times over the period of several days and you still disagree. That's the beauty of writing. It's subjective. Don't take their advice in that instance. If you're still stuck, then get a third opinion on the disagreement you and your beta reader are having.

Cyia
10-18-2009, 03:20 AM
You should also remember that in terms of voice there are always people who yammer away in the most annoying tone imaginable, but are oblivious to it. Yes, it's the way they speak, but that doesn't mean people want to hear it.

If the fragments are jarring, or stall the flow of the story so much that the reader realizes they're fragments, there's an execution problem. Read it out loud and see how it sounds in your ears.

ishtar'sgate
10-18-2009, 03:29 AM
I'm sure you've heard the expression 'too many cooks spoil the soup'. Too many opinions can do the same thing. Choose a beta who has given you sound advice in the past and stick with them. Novel writing is not by group consensus. It's YOUR work. A good beta will not say "you should write it like this". A good beta will simply tell you where your writing isn't clear and where things don't flow or seem to work well. It's up to you to rectify the problem.

AllieKat
10-18-2009, 03:37 AM
You should also remember that in terms of voice there are always people who yammer away in the most annoying tone imaginable, but are oblivious to it. Yes, it's the way they speak, but that doesn't mean people want to hear it.

If the fragments are jarring, or stall the flow of the story so much that the reader realizes they're fragments, there's an execution problem. Read it out loud and see how it sounds in your ears.

And that's another possibility! Just in case that's true, I'll probably take the beta's advice--this time, at least. :)

Er, I mean...that question was purely hypothetical. Okay, maybe not. :o

Thank you all for your thoughts & advice!!! :D

Linda Adams
10-18-2009, 03:44 AM
And not all the betas know what they're talking about! Like the one who told me I needed to remove all my dialogue ...

Shadow_Ferret
10-18-2009, 03:48 AM
I'm sure you've heard the expression 'too many cooks spoil the soup'. Too many opinions can do the same thing.

I agree. I was involved in a few writing workshops where you'd give a copy to everyone then get it back and see that they all had a different opinion on the story. On the same scene you could have a "loved it!" a "this doesn't work for me," a "this is unclear," a "a little work and this is gold" and so on.

I'm a believer that writing is a solitary act, but a second set of eyes that shares your vision (meaning they write in a similar genre) is helpful. Sometimes we do miss things that seem glaring mistakes to others. Find a beta that gives good advice and if they're a good editor, so much the better.

AllieKat
10-18-2009, 04:00 AM
And not all the betas know what they're talking about! Like the one who told me I needed to remove all my dialogue ...

Whoa! :Wha:

alleycat
10-18-2009, 04:03 AM
And not all the betas know what they're talking about! Like the one who told me I needed to remove all my dialogue ...
That actually made me chuckle out loud. Really? If AllieKat doesn't mind, would you explain further. Surely they didn't really mean that . . . did they?

Linda Adams
10-18-2009, 04:13 AM
Yes, one of the betas really did tell me that. He was a friend of my then co-writer--I probably wouldn't have asked the guy to beta because he preferred non-fiction and didn't read a lot of fiction. He said that the narrative told the story, not the dialogue and that we needed to get rid of the dialogue.

Libbie
10-18-2009, 04:15 AM
And not all the betas know what they're talking about! Like the one who told me I needed to remove all my dialogue ...

Wow, that definitely trumps the beta suggestion I got to "write more like Stephenie Meyer." O____o

backslashbaby
10-18-2009, 04:21 AM
That's pretty good, lol :D

My favorite beta is awesome except she has an odd habit of wanting things repeated:

...and they left for the church.

"At the church..."

^^^ I usually just go on without the second line, assuming you'll know it's a church because I'm descibing a church. But then, maybe I'm just kooky that way ;)

CACTUSWENDY
10-18-2009, 04:32 AM
This is why I don't like to do many beta readings.....

'These are only my opinion and not worth much' is my disclaimer. Some things that others like I don't find clear or like at all.

When I have my work beta read....I listen to each of their points and weigh them accordingly. So far I have been blessed with some real good insight from them.

I agree that fresh eyes are a big help. As a writer I get too close to the page sometimes....lol

If I could ....I would send flowers to each of them......but we don't have don't have a smiley for that...so they only get a .....:Trophy:

backslashbaby
10-18-2009, 04:34 AM
:e2flowers For you :)

RedScylla
10-18-2009, 06:06 AM
I generally pay very close attention to beta remarks on how they reacted to the story, how they felt at different points, their degree of satisfaction with character development. On the other hand, I almost completely ignore any stylistic suggestions. Not that I consider those suggestions to be invalid, just that they tend to alter the voice of a piece, and usually by the time I get to beta readers, I have the voice solidified.

scarletpeaches
10-18-2009, 06:13 AM
It's difficult to describe the dynamic with me and tt42. She'll often make suggestions and I'll initially say, "Oh no, I couldn't, because..." and if I can't find a reason not to follow her suggestion, my thought process goes, "Well let's say I did write it that way...hmm...actually that's not bad."

At one point she even said, "Make your MC male, not female." And straight away I said, "Oh, don't be so stu- actually, wait..."

Not everyone would get away with that, though. I usually hate people telling me how to write my books. But if someone understands your vision, then fine. Betas should help you find your voice, not tell you to write the book in theirs.

firedrake
10-18-2009, 06:14 AM
Betas should help you find your voice, not tell you to write the book in theirs.

QFT.

thethinker42
10-18-2009, 06:27 AM
My rule of thumb with betas is this:

If one person makes a suggestion, I'll consider it.
If two people make the same suggestion, I'll REALLY consider it.
If three people make the same suggestion, change it, no question.

This doesn't apply to scarletpeaches...she reads as I write, practically reading over my shoulder, and 9 times out of 10, if she makes a suggestion, it applies. Not because I automatically do whatever she tells me to do but because she is almost always spot-on with her suggestions.

maestrowork
10-18-2009, 06:30 AM
I listen and consider my betas' comments seriously. I respect them that much, especially when they've taken the time to help me.

That doesn't mean I scramble and follow their suggestions or complaints or what not without questioning if they're right, at least for the book. I have to remember that these are opinions. I do read them all and consider them. I just don't jump when they tell me to.

Same with editors, by the way.

scarletpeaches
10-18-2009, 06:37 AM
I listen and consider my betas' comments seriously. I respect them that much, especially when they've taken the time to help me.

That doesn't mean I scramble and follow their suggestions or complaints or what not without questioning if they're right, at least for the book. I have to remember that these are opinions. I do read them all and consider them. I just don't jump when they tell me to.

Same with editors, by the way.I think too there's a lot of translation work involved in taking a beta's comments on board.

Authors often find there's a disconnect between what's in their head and what's on the page and a beta is there to bring that to your attention. Sometimes there's a disconnect between what they're trying to tell you and what you hear.

For example, they could say "I don't like Character X." Well maybe they're trying to tell you, "His actions in chapter five are incongruous with what you reveal about his background in chapter two." And it's your job as an author to give that some thought.

thethinker42
10-18-2009, 06:45 AM
I think too there's a lot of translation work involved in taking a beta's comments on board.

Authors often find there's a disconnect between what's in their head and what's on the page and a beta is there to bring that to your attention. Sometimes there's a disconnect between what they're trying to tell you and what you hear.

For example, they could say "I don't like Character X." Well maybe they're trying to tell you, "His actions in chapter five are incongruous with what you reveal about his background in chapter two." And it's your job as an author to give that some thought.

Good point.

I've had some beta comments that didn't make sense at all. i.e., asking why a character did something in a certain paragraph, when the following paragraph spells it out in neon lights. When something like that comes up, I'll pause and ask myself if the subsequent paragraph really DOES spell it out like I think it does, then I'll show it to another beta and see what they say. Sometimes it turns out the first beta (the alpha beta?) was right and I didn't spell things out as clearly as I thought. Other times, the secondary beta (beta beta?) confirms that the way it was written was perfectly clear, and in that case, I disregard the comment.

maestrowork
10-18-2009, 06:47 AM
Certainly, and that's why we must seriously consider every comment the beta reader has. Still, they are opinions. If one person tells you something, it could just be the person didn't pay attention or understand. But if five readers tell you the same thing, then you should probably pay special notice -- perhaps something is lost in translation.

Also, sometimes betas can tell you exactly what you want to hear, even though they think "something is wrong." For example, my betas all said they found my MC rather unlikable in the beginning and that the relationship he had was strained. That gave them discomfort and they wondered if my MC should be likable, lovable. But that was exactly the effect I wanted, and I knew I did it right if they felt that way.

But when the readers (especially more than a few) have the opposite reactions than I hoped for, then I know something is wrong.

True
10-18-2009, 06:52 AM
I have one beta in particular who's always looked at my work, and before we even start reading the material we've sent to each other, we explain to one another what it is we want from the other person, then we go from there. As for the suggestions he makes, I consider most of them, though there are times where I flat out think, "No...that's not right," and I'll let him know how I feel about it. We've both made it clear from the beginning that we would consider what the other person said, whether we agreed with it right off the bat or not. We also made it clear we'd always be honest with each other, and even if I didn't change something he suggested I change or vice versa, we needed to know that the other one was doing what they thought was best for their story. It didn't mean we hadn't considered what they'd said. I agreed not to change his voice--and he would let me know if I was doing that--and he agreed he wouldn't change my voice--and I'd let him know if he was doing that with me. We usually won't change something right away; we'll sit on it, give it some thought, then go back to it. Once we've changed it, we resend the piece and wait for the other's opinion on it.

I think it's important that you establish how things are going to work before you even begin.

AllieKat
10-18-2009, 07:17 AM
I have one beta in particular who's always looked at my work, and before we even start reading the material we've sent to each other, we explain to one another what it is we want from the other person, then we go from there. As for the suggestions he makes, I consider most of them, though there are times where I flat out think, "No...that's not right," and I'll let him know how I feel about it. We've both made it clear from the beginning that we would consider what the other person said, whether we agreed with it right off the bat or not. We also made it clear we'd always be honest with each other, and even if I didn't change something he suggested I change or vice versa, we needed to know that the other one was doing what they thought was best for their story. It didn't mean we hadn't considered what they'd said. I agreed not to change his voice--and he would let me know if I was doing that--and he agreed he wouldn't change my voice--and I'd let him know if he was doing that with me. We usually won't change something right away; we'll sit on it, give it some thought, then go back to it. Once we've changed it, we resend the piece and wait for the other's opinion on it.

I think it's important that you establish how things are going to work before you even begin.

That sounds like a really healthy and profitable arrangement! :)

Karen Junker
10-18-2009, 10:54 AM
Just so long as you listen to any beta who tells you not to open your story with a dream sequence, you're good to go. :)

hakandragon
10-18-2009, 11:12 AM
I love getting beta reader feedback on stories. Sometimes, I don't agree with some of the comments. Such as for instance when a beta tells me to use fewer fragments. I consider using fragments to be part of my style.

Me too! I'm always getting annoyed at comments about fragments. I can't say I use them all the time, but in one story in particular, I do use quite a few. But it's part of the story, and it's part of my style, especially where this MC is concerned: He is fragmented in so many ways to begin with, it seems only natural that he would tell a story in the same way. In that sense, a person's gotta stay true to 3 things. First: themselves. Second: their character(s). Third: the story as a whole. :) Of course, that's not to say that you should ignore everything they say, of course not. But in the end, all you can do is do what you think is best for the story, weather that means accepting the changes or not :)

And not all the betas know what they're talking about! Like the one who told me I needed to remove all my dialogue ...

I had an English teacher do that to me once! I had to carry out an ending of a story that was set on an empty basketball court where the two characters, a father and a son, were reconciling. Empty basketball court, two people, reconciling. All I could *do* was have them talk! There was nothing else going on around them! LOL. *shrugs* Oh well, what can you do? ^_^

Samantha's_Song
10-18-2009, 12:02 PM
This is part of an email conversation, I had this week, with the third person, in as many months, whom I've beta read for and who are now talking with agents.

If I remember rightly, I adopted several of your major suggestions - So you do have the midas touch, I could always tell you were a good and honest critter.
So thanks again.

I feel really chuffed when people get back to me and tell me that my suggestions might have helped them a tiny bit into reaching their publishing goasl.

Lady Ice
10-18-2009, 03:04 PM
This is what I'd do:

1- Make the genre clear at the beginning: 'This is a romantic novel'. That way, if your beta is experienced, they can see if the novel's genre works, or if they hate romance, they can hand it over. I myself wouldn't give any advice on fantasy or sci-fi beyond grammatical issues or character issues.

2- Raise some certain things you want from the critique: 'Does Chapter 6 work?' If they come across other stuff that doesn't work, fine, but they should be giving you the advice you want.

3- I've only really posted snippets but have pretty much followed all the comments (if there's a mixture of negative and positive, I go with my gut feeling) I got. Even if you don't want to make the exact change they suggest, I'd keep in mind that someone thought X about that certain bit.

Dermit
10-18-2009, 05:59 PM
Well, after I'm done with a round of betaing I generally like to have my beta readers lined up and shot for having the audacity to disagree with me.

As an aside, I'm currently looking for beta readers for my new Twilight ripoff! Any takers??

maestrowork
10-18-2009, 07:33 PM
comments such as for instance when a beta tells me to use fewer fragments. I consider using fragments to be part of my style... Sometimes betas give suggestions and corrections that are more personal preference than gospel truth.

That's why I usually don't have writers as my betas. It's one thing for them to say, "this feels wrong. I can't connect with the characters." It's another for them to tell me how to fix the work or "I would write it this way." I don't want critiques or edits. I want a READER's perspective. I want a beta READER, not a critique partner.

Not that all my writer friends try to tell him how to write. And I do have readers who are writers, too, but I'm very picky about who I want as my betas. If they tell me to stop using fragments or try to rewrite a sentence for me, away they go.

katiemac
10-19-2009, 12:28 AM
It's another for them to tell me how to fix the work or "I would write it this way." I don't want critiques or edits.

Sometimes, though, if you're swapping via the Internet, the easiest way to make your point is to throw in an example. Personally I do my best not to offer rewrites, but if I'm having trouble explaining why something doesn't make sense, I might throw out a line. This doesn't mean I expect the writer to take that line or change anything, I'm only attempting to make myself more clear.

dpaterso
10-19-2009, 01:20 AM
if I'm having trouble explaining why something doesn't make sense, I might throw out a line. This doesn't mean I expect the writer to take that line or change anything, I'm only attempting to make myself more clear.
Ditto, scribbling a quickie example is worth 1,000 words of convoluted blah blah explanation.

-Derek

sunandshadow
10-19-2009, 03:15 AM
Occasionally beta readers are outright wrong - recently I had a beta reader with a fundamental misunderstanding of comma placement rules who 'corrected' my commas in nonsense ways. Always, beta readers have their own aesthetic opinions which are going to differ from yours in some way. This is the category where I would file the recommendation to use fewer sentence fragments. Personally I would want to understand why they were making this recommendation - from their perspective, removing sentence fragments would make the piece... what? More smooth? More proper? Less disorienting? Less modern-sounding? Then, I ask myself if I want the piece to be more or less of whatever quality.

Mr Flibble
10-19-2009, 03:26 AM
How much do I listen? Well depends on the comment

Things that make me slap my forehead and say 'Of course, how could I not see that!' are changed ASAP :D

Things that are grammar cock ups/ confusing passages I'll check and probably change

Thoughts on character likeability, plot likelihood, implausible motivations - will always consider, very thoroughly, but may or may not change, depending on what I'm trying to achieve.

Style - may or may not change, depending

Passages where the beta has obviously misread a word ( though I'll check to see if it's context that has caused the misreading) or whathave you, or where a technical point is made that is out right wrong - take it onboard but probably dismiss - we all have our bad days

For instance, once had a comment that 'Things don't smolder suddenly - that's an oxymoron' Which would have been a valid comment - if the word hadn't been sullenly.


Take what's good, ignore what isn't - but always at least consider it.

redcedar
10-19-2009, 10:23 PM
The one thing I learned from my creative writing class was that I should never let people who didn't read speculative fiction beta read for me.

When I was asked why the protagonist was so terrified by the little short guys who made cookies (elves) I realized that the genre divide was a lot wider than I'd imagined.

maestrowork
10-19-2009, 10:48 PM
Sometimes, though, if you're swapping via the Internet, the easiest way to make your point is to throw in an example. Personally I do my best not to offer rewrites, but if I'm having trouble explaining why something doesn't make sense, I might throw out a line. This doesn't mean I expect the writer to take that line or change anything, I'm only attempting to make myself more clear.

I guess it depends on what you want out of your beta read? My purpose is different than during critiques or edits. I want a pure reader's perspective. The problem with writers (like me) is that when we beta read, we start to see niggles and nitpick on the writing -- this sentence sounds off, that punctuation is wrong, etc. instead of immersing ourselves in the story and focus on things that make more sense to a reader. Once I read like a writer, I can't relax and read -- I start to pick on everything that has nothing to do with the story or characters. And I think some of my writing buddies do that, too. And that's very distracting during the beta READ process.

My best betas are all readers first and foremost. Some of them may write, but they don't put on their writer's hat when they beta read. The most valuable suggestions I get would be something like "something is off here and I am not convinced this would happen." They're not going to tell me how to fix it, but they tell me something is definitely wrong there; it doesn't jive with them as readers. I find those comments incredibly insightful, and they take the writer's ego out of the equation.

nitaworm
10-19-2009, 10:53 PM
I am very lucky that I get a lot of Beta readers for my work. If I see a repeating theme - or problem, it's something I need to change. If it's a suggestion that doesn't go in line with the entire work, then I will call back the other beta readers to see if they felt the same way and just didn't note it. If it's just the beta being picky because they like to read things a certain way - I usually ask them if with that one item, would they still read the book or recommend it.

Now, also consider if the beta even reads your genre for fun, or is just reading it to help you out. That makes a big difference also.

maestrowork
10-19-2009, 11:07 PM
The one thing I learned from my creative writing class was that I should never let people who didn't read speculative fiction beta read for me.

When I was asked why the protagonist was so terrified by the little short guys who made cookies (elves) I realized that the genre divide was a lot wider than I'd imagined.

I disagree. I think it would be invaluable to listen to people who don't normally read that genre, because they can pick up on something that genre readers don't.

The issue with picking only readers of your genre is that you may end up only hearing what you want to hear. Or that the readers become complacent and they would accept the same trope or cliches because it's been done before, while a non-genre reader could say, "hey, wait a minute" and make you think out of the box.

It doesn't mean their comments would be valid, but I believe they could at least give you a different perspective, something to mull over.

The Lonely One
10-19-2009, 11:17 PM
I think there's a couple things going on to make a writer/beta relationship work. First, I often go to those I already trust on the subject of writing, and I think that is helpful if you can do it. Just doing a dry run all the way through an MS with a stranger can be hit or a total miss. Plus if your beta is more of an amateur writer or is bad at critical reading, it becomes counterproductive.

Second, I think a writer utilizing a beta should likely be at a level where they understand basic grammar, syntax and structure, and should mainly be using outside voices for the aspects of the MS they're too close to to fix, or have reworked too many times without solution.

Voice, when it works, works. Most average readers can tell when it works, or else if it doesn't fit their style they'll put it down pretty quickly.

If you have a beta that likes your voice and story but tells you "There are too many fragments in this section," they might be right. Don't get golden word syndrome (is that what they call it?). Your writing can always be improved, and sometimes what you were going for doesn't work. Be able to admit that to yourself. Combine a few sentences or use all the parts of speech once and a while, rather than fragment-fragment-fragment-fragment. It becomes a tiring rhythm if there isn't variation on some mild level.

But I say this because, if I ask for advice, I NEVER read a comment and immediately say "that's wrong for my story." My first instinct is to see where that comment would arise from, why the reader would get tripped out of the story there, and what I can do to make it 10x less likely for that to happen again. If it really is something that shouldn't be changed, and the beta is constantly making comments to that kind of degree, I've chosen the wrong beta.

Ultimately it's your MS but what about when an editor stumbles at the same spots you consider "voice"? If they do, and your betas did, I'd bet readers who buy your book will, too.

Of course a lot of this business is subjective, but it's give and take, we're sort of feeling our way around in the dark, and a writer needs to have their footing before they approach betas with their work.

Telstar
10-20-2009, 02:18 AM
You are the writer.

PS: Who's the man in the avatar?

AllieKat
10-21-2009, 01:55 AM
You are the writer.

PS: Who's the man in the avatar?

If you mean me, it's the main character in the TV show "Psych." The character's name is Shawn Spencer. The plug for the show is, "Fake psychic--real detective."

AllieKat
10-21-2009, 11:59 AM
The one thing I learned from my creative writing class was that I should never let people who didn't read speculative fiction beta read for me.

When I was asked why the protagonist was so terrified by the little short guys who made cookies (elves) I realized that the genre divide was a lot wider than I'd imagined.

Haha! Keebler fans, eh?



Of course a lot of this business is subjective, but it's give and take, we're sort of feeling our way around in the dark, and a writer needs to have their footing before they approach betas with their work.

And of course that is sometimes the hardest part. Heh. How much do (or should) the writer trust their own work and voice?


Thank you all for the remarks, suggestions, discussion, and thoughts. :)

Ruv Draba
10-21-2009, 01:36 PM
I love getting beta reader feedback on stories. Sometimes, I don't agree with some of the comments. Such as for instance when a beta tells me to use fewer fragments. I consider using fragments to be part of my style.I see several grades of reader reactions:

An emotional response, without knowing why or where
An emotional response that generally knows why and where
2, supplemented by suggestions for changes that range from proofing to rewrites, optionally bolstered by rote writing platitudes
3, based on a strong a structural understanding of your manuscript and writing technique
1 is tyre-kicking. Don't waste your time.

2-3 are beta-reading skills. The commentary is useful but it's up to you to diagnose whether there's a problem with the manuscript or with the reading, and what if anything to do about it.

4 is editorial skill. It's the skill all writers need to acquire, but not all have. If you have someone giving you 4 as a beta-reader then hug 'em to your bosom and listen carefully. At the very worst they'll give you useful alternatives to consider. At best they can help you learn better writing.

maestrowork
10-22-2009, 12:10 AM
I see several grades of reader reactions:

An emotional response, without knowing why or where
An emotional response that generally knows why and where
2, supplemented by suggestions for changes that range from proofing to rewrites, optionally bolstered by rote writing platitudes
3, based on a strong a structural understanding of your manuscript and writing technique
1 is tyre-kicking. Don't waste your time.

2-3 are beta-reading skills. The commentary is useful but it's up to you to diagnose whether there's a problem with the manuscript or with the reading, and what if anything to do about it.

4 is editorial skill. It's the skill all writers need to acquire, but not all have. If you have someone giving you 4 as a beta-reader then hug 'em to your bosom and listen carefully. At the very worst they'll give you useful alternatives to consider. At best they can help you learn better writing.

I only ask for #1 and #2 of my betas. #3 is for writing/critique partners. #4 is for my editors.

They're like socks. Each kind has its specific functions.

And I don't mix and match them.

Ruv Draba
10-22-2009, 03:43 AM
I only ask for #1 and #2 of my betas. #3 is for writing/critique partners. #4 is for my editors.Alas, but not everyone has an editor. I think a lot of writers are seeking 4, but only getting 2 and 3. And you're right, Maestro... 2 isn't 3 and 3 isn't 4. :D

Sevvy
10-22-2009, 07:00 AM
You should seriously consider any advice you get from beta readers (unless it's obviously wrong-such as grammar/spelling issues), because not only did you ask for their advice, but the stuff you might think makes no sense might end up being great for you to try.

Try re-writing those sentence fragments, even if it's only on just one page, to hear what it sounds like. You might actually like it better that way, and if you don't it's an exercise in helping you discover why you prefer the fragments (thus reinforcing your original certainty in them) but also sharpens your writing skills in general (because all writing is practice, in a way).

Someone else wrote about removing all of the dialogue from their story, which is another great opportunity to try something different, something you never would have thought of. It might (and probably would have) failed miserably, but a writer should be open to trying those sorts of things. Save the document in a separate file, and if you don't like it, you still have the original to work with.

I recently had a reader (who is my grad adviser, so he does know what he's doing as a writer) tell me to make a short story entirely epistolary. I was resistant to it, didn't like the idea of it, but did it anyways because I respect his opinion. I don't know if it will stay like that, but the new material I wrote to do that gave me a lot of fresh stuff for this story.

In the end it is the writer's decision, and you shouldn't ever make any changes that you really feel aren't in the spirit of the piece, but it never hurts to try some of those suggestions, even if they seem crazy (especially if they seem crazy).

Katrina S. Forest
10-22-2009, 03:54 PM
It's difficult to describe the dynamic with me and tt42. She'll often make suggestions and I'll initially say, "Oh no, I couldn't, because..." and if I can't find a reason not to follow her suggestion, my thought process goes, "Well let's say I did write it that way...hmm...actually that's not bad."

That's how I am a lot. If I suspect there's some validity to what a beta reader is saying, I try it and see how it works. If I like the old version better, I go back to the old version, and no harm done.

One thing to definitely keep an eye on is if multiple people suggest the same thing. Take a serious look at any issues that keep coming up over and over with different people.