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OctoberLee
01-01-2010, 01:51 AM
So my beta despised the first 15,000 words of my novel, thought the pacing was atrocious and there was no action in it. I don't know what to do...

My sister beta'ed it before the beta did. I thought she would be my harshest critic - she's not afraid to tell me like it is. She's pretty picky, not really a fantasy reader (mostly does sci fi), much less YA, but told me I shouldn't mess with the pacing or plot.

Sigh, I just don't know what to do. This is what goes to my agent. If the first four chapters are crap, my interested agent isn't going to be so interested anymore... but at the same time, I like the first four chapters and don't know that there's anyway to rewrite them (AGAIN) and stay true to my story/self.

Pity party, table for one please! ;)

Cyia
01-01-2010, 01:59 AM
Have you tried to find another beta? Or posted 1,500- 2,000 of those words to Share Your Work so you have more than one opinion on it? You may have simply gotten a beta who didn't like the book, that doesn't mean someone else won't.

I'm wondering about this "interested agent". It's odd to have an agent interested before the book is finished. Have you checked him/her out?

DWSTXS
01-01-2010, 02:03 AM
You'll need a much thicker skin if you decide that you really want to get published someday. One or two beta readers is nothing. Imagine sending out one or two hundred queries and getting 50 back that simply say 'not for me' and another 50 that just flat out don't even answer, and so on.

Constructive criticism helps you shape your story into a much better story. No criticism does nothing for you.

You will probably hear the words 'not good enough' over and over and over until finally, one day, ONE person (an agent, or a publisher) will say, this is good enough. That's all it takes, and then, you'll be glad that you had all that previous constructive criticism. The trick is to polish the mss over and over until you do get to that one person (that matters) who says 'this is good enough'

OctoberLee
01-01-2010, 02:03 AM
Yes, she's with Erin Murphy Literary Agency.. she saw my query on a blog. It's done-ish... but I'm still editing chapters 8-14... so I can't send it to her yet obviously.

I will try to find another beta. I just feel like I have no direction on what might need 'fixing'. I guess I'm scared of the share your work too... like that makes my novel less 'fresh' or something.

OctoberLee
01-01-2010, 02:09 AM
You'll need a much thicker skin if you decide that you really want to get published someday. One or two beta readers is nothing. Imagine sending out one or two hundred queries and getting 50 back that simply say 'not for me' and another 50 that just flat out don't even answer, and so on.

Hey thanks for joining my pity party ;)

Yes you're right, of course. But I guess I didn't feel the critique was specific enough to give me direction on what the problem might be. So now I don't know if there's something wrong with it (Beta B) nothing wrong with it (Beta A) and whether I should just trust myself and my writing...

And of course, I should remind myself that there are plenty of published books that I have picked up, hundreds probably, where I've read the first few pages and gone "bleh" and put it back on the shelf... so maybe I'm just one of those, not the right book for the right reader.

EDIT: Arrgh, okay, QFT me! No more wallowing in self pity to avoid editing those last few chapters. Good god, if I don't know what I'm trying to do with my writing, then who does? Time to put out and shut up! PITY PARTY OVER!

Cricket18
01-01-2010, 02:18 AM
EXM-

If I may, here's my .02--take it or leave it. I think we try to rush everything. The agent is going nowhere. You want to give her the best possible ms.

Take the time to find another beta. If they love the beginning chapters, you're good to go. If they agree w/ the other you'll need to fix it.

Agents want to see the best possible version. She'll appreciate you took the time to do exactly that.

OctoberLee
01-01-2010, 02:26 AM
EXM-

If I may, here's my .02--take it or leave it. I think we try to rush everything. The agent is going nowhere. You want to give her the best possible ms.

Take the time to find another beta. If they love the beginning chapters, you're good to go. If they agree w/ the other you'll need to fix it.

Agents want to see the best possible version. She'll appreciate you took the time to do exactly that.

You are dead on. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

DWSTXS
01-01-2010, 02:47 AM
also, you might want to be in a more 'constructive' frame of mind when you are discussing your own work.

For instance, did your beta actaully say that he/she 'despised' it? Or did they say they didn't 'like' it for whatever reason? If the latter, you might consider that your reader was not the genre audience that the story is really meant for, therefore, someone else may actually like it.

Also, if it wasn't liked because of grammar, misspellings etc. . .that is something that you can correct and learn how to improve for future writing.

If it was plot holes etc. . .maybe you just rushed it to the reader before it was really ready to be read and critiqued.

See? The fact that you want to write is step one.
Step two is trying. You've done that.

Now, you just have to take step 3. . .improvement. Which you will do. It's all in taking the right steps at the right time.

If it was the most fantastic fantasy story ever written, I would NOT like it. All I mean by that, is, the next time you have someone beta-read it, make sure it's someone who likes whatever genre you're writing in.

just my 2 cents worth.

MJWare
01-01-2010, 02:55 AM
I just started another beta, but I'd be glad to look at it as soon as I'm finished.
How long is it? I'll PM you.

backslashbaby
01-01-2010, 06:45 PM
Some crit-ers are just on a powertrip, too. Never trust just one person who reads your work. And sisters are always suspect, so she only half counts ;) Get it out there to read, and you should hear the same problems and good parts to a certain degree.

I'll do 10 pages, if you like, btw. Not that that helps much with pacing, but pick the part where the pacing was supposed to be off, perhaps.

Maryn
01-01-2010, 08:37 PM
One thing I'd do is to put it away for a while--3 weeks, maybe--then look at the beta's negative feedback with fresh eyes and less heart. Does the beta 'get it' in terms of being in sync with your work? Does she use any specific examples to support the negatives she notes? Can you see how she might have formed her negative opinions, even if you disagree? Basically, while beta-author mismatches, and crappy beta readers, are possibilities, so is the validity of the beta's observations.

So yeah, find another beta, or two. Post the opening at the appropriate SYW board, which will not only help you identify any problems but may help you find good betas.

Maryn, pouring you a mimosa

ChristineR
01-02-2010, 12:03 AM
You know, no matter what you write, the majority of people won't like it, because no one likes everything. If one person found it too slow, another might find the pacing of that person's favorite book to be unrealistic and forced.

If you really and truly think that your pacing is off--then fix it. Otherwise, find a best-selling book that you think is similar to your book in intent, find someone who likes the best seller, and ask for a critique based on how well your book approximates the goals of the model book.

Mharvey
01-02-2010, 12:38 AM
So my beta despised the first 15,000 words of my novel, thought the pacing was atrocious and there was no action in it. I don't know what to do...

My sister beta'ed it before the beta did. I thought she would be my harshest critic - she's not afraid to tell me like it is. She's pretty picky, not really a fantasy reader (mostly does sci fi), much less YA, but told me I shouldn't mess with the pacing or plot.

Sigh, I just don't know what to do. This is what goes to my agent. If the first four chapters are crap, my interested agent isn't going to be so interested anymore... but at the same time, I like the first four chapters and don't know that there's anyway to rewrite them (AGAIN) and stay true to my story/self.

Pity party, table for one please! ;)

People have different tastes. Even Led Zeppelin got a harsh review. They renamed the band after a metaphor in that review, and become music legends.

Take it to heart, but don't make drastic changes yet. Find another beta. They say alot of the same things, they probably have some merit.

Rowan
01-02-2010, 02:36 AM
Get as many opinions as you can, preferably from beta readers who enjoy or have experience in your genre. You can't please everyone and even if you write the "perfect" novel it won't appeal to everyone. Look at Twilight, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Gone With the Wind, etc. etc. You'll find people who LOVE these novels and others who despise them. The important thing is that you write the best MS you can and make sure it's in the best possible shape before you submit. Best of luck! :)

OctoberLee
01-02-2010, 03:07 AM
One thing I'd do is to put it away for a while--3 weeks, maybe--then look at the beta's negative feedback with fresh eyes and less heart. Does the beta 'get it' in terms of being in sync with your work? Does she use any specific examples to support the negatives she notes? Can you see how she might have formed her negative opinions, even if you disagree? Basically, while beta-author mismatches, and crappy beta readers, are possibilities, so is the validity of the beta's observations.

So yeah, find another beta, or two. Post the opening at the appropriate SYW board, which will not only help you identify any problems but may help you find good betas.

Maryn, pouring you a mimosa

Thanks, I needed a drink ;)

I would like to say that my beta "didn't get it" possibly because it's a guy reading a story about a 17 year old girl (EDIT - Not to say that there aren't plenty of guys who like books like Twilight, but I personally have put down and passed up a lot of books about boys/men). It definitely wasn't grammar or spelling. There weren't even any comments about either of those. I guess that was what bothered me the most: no specifics. He had a point that seemed valid about the pacing (and that is something I'm going to take a look at) but it seemed he just didn't like it.

But, as ChristineR pointed out, I'm not going to win 'em all.

Two people were kind enough to offer to beta read for me, which, considering my rant, is very kind indeed. I've really appreciated all the advice here. The whole process of sending your baby out in the world to be torn apart by strangers is traumatic. But I'm thickening my skin and learning to accept the bad that will inevitably come along with the good.

Exm

Cricket18
01-02-2010, 10:46 AM
I would like to say that my beta "didn't get it" possibly because it's a guy reading a story about a 17 year old girl (EDIT - Not to say that there aren't plenty of guys who like books like Twilight, but I personally have put down and passed up a lot of books about boys/men). It definitely wasn't grammar or spelling. There weren't even any comments about either of those. I guess that was what bothered me the most: no specifics. He had a point that seemed valid about the pacing (and that is something I'm going to take a look at) but it seemed he just didn't like it.

FYI...my YAUF is a coming of age story, among other things. My MC is a 16 year old girl. Um, not one male agent ever requested my pages. Ever. After a while I started thinking, maybe guys can't relate. Sure enough, I started querying women, got tons of requests, and garnered my (female) agent.

While I have no idea what your ms entails, I wouldn't take your male beta's advice to heart too much. Again, have others read. But honestly, I'm not at all surprised that a male didn't get your ms.

My advice, find some betas in your target audience (girls!) as well as some folks from AW.

Good luck!!

JMBlackman
01-02-2010, 10:55 AM
A lot of good has already been said, but I just wanted to repeat something I think it important--one person's opinion shouldn't determine the fate of your book, or how you feel about it. I know it's hard not to be bummed since it's your baby, but you've got to look at the crit as it is--an opinion.

Best of luck. <3.

Rufus Coppertop
01-04-2010, 11:49 AM
I've just had the shit kicked out of my WIP by a beta reader and I'm feeling fine.

Another one got back to me quickly and said she'd read the first four chapters and found it "brilliant" and would get back to me regarding the rest in a few days.

Others (not beta readers so far) have read it and enjoyed the very things that this person hated.

Don't worry about it.

If someone goes to the trouble of reading your work and telling you in detail why they hate it, thank them. They've put effort into it.

You don't have to agree with their opinions and neither do you have to dismiss them out of hand. Just remember that their feedback is opinionary rather than factual.

stephenf
01-04-2010, 02:09 PM
You need to pull together a consensus of opinion from readers added with your own judgement. But, it is a mistake to dismiss other people because they don't like your writing,unless you are writing for your own amusement.If your interested, I will be happy to read the first chapter of your book .PM me if your are, and I let you have my e-mail address.

bluehippo
01-04-2010, 02:25 PM
I would be happy to beta for you exm if you still want another beta. PM me if you do and I’ll send you my e-mail address. I read mainly YA fantasy and I’m a girl (although a bit older than 17) so I might be more your target audience :)

Parametric
01-06-2010, 04:32 PM
also, you might want to be in a more 'constructive' frame of mind when you are discussing your own work.

For instance, did your beta actaully say that he/she 'despised' it? Or did they say they didn't 'like' it for whatever reason? If the latter, you might consider that your reader was not the genre audience that the story is really meant for, therefore, someone else may actually like it.

This is really good, spot-on advice, D. When I read "didn't like" or "needs revisions" in feedback, what I register is "hated it and you should burn this novel and never write again". It's a destructive habit, and I should take your advice and stop doing it.

/threadjack :tongue