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rosepetal720
05-03-2011, 12:13 AM
I have a beta reader who's a godsend. She's done amazing work on my book. She's offered to mail me helpful books, she wants to keep up a working relationship, she wants to meet me at writer's conferences, and she's represented by an agent I want.

She sent me a revised version of her first chapter after I made my critiques. Come to find out, she didn't make any of the changes I recommended. I even asked her if she sent my the wrong version on accident. They were all changes I felt very strongly about... most of the chapter was hard to understand.

I'm so angry! I've spent a lot of time on her book, and I feel like all that time was wasted. I know it's her book and she should keep it the way she likes it, but if she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do, then aren't we both wasting valuable time? I could spend that effort working on my own novel.

I don't want to lose her as a partner because the relationship is so beneficial to me (though heaven knows what she's getting out of it). But I don't know if I can grit my teeth and put in all the work to finish her book when it won't make a difference.

This isn't just a rant. I seriously don't know what to do. Help!

strictlytopsecret
05-03-2011, 12:34 AM
Let it go.

Respect her enough to allow her to make what you believe are mistakes, and she will learn from them.

Good luck with your decision,
~STS~

rosepetal720
05-03-2011, 12:37 AM
In other words, continue wasting my time even though I'm going to hate every minute of it.

I agree with you, it is a matter of respect and I can't make her decisions for her. It's just so much time to waste.

Chase
05-03-2011, 12:41 AM
This isn't just a rant. I seriously don't know what to do. Help!

It's being discussed in another thread. My opinion--and it's just that--is I'd work hard to pull in my ego and not cut off my nose to spite my face.

Others have lines they draw and hem and haw about reasons, but my advice is always offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

On the other side of the coin, if a critique partner dictated his or her writing style as a condition to continuing or insisted I change "happy" to "glad" or our trading is done, then our trading would indeed be done and good luck to the other writer's book.

Chris P
05-03-2011, 12:42 AM
That doesn't mean you should keep spending countless hours doing crits. Maybe give it another chance but if she doesn't take any suggestions ask her if you are being helpful to her. It's nothing personal, it's just you might not be providing the type of help she wants and there might be better ways to use your time. This doesn't mean she can't continue to help you, either. Maybe she's okay with mentoring you without getting anything in return. It doesn't have to be completely equal as long as both of you are okay with that.

rosepetal720
05-03-2011, 12:45 AM
Where else is this being discussed? I'm eager to hear how others are handling this.

thothguard51
05-03-2011, 12:46 AM
You are not her agent or editor...

She is free to make her choices on what to accept and what not to accept. It's her story, not yours...

veinglory
05-03-2011, 12:49 AM
The author is under no obligation whatsoever to use the beta's suggestion. Which is why I generally make beta suggestions as comments. And of the author really only wants proofreading, then that's what I do.

whacko
05-03-2011, 12:53 AM
Hey RP,

It seems a fair trade off. The Beta is a godsend for you, so it's not as if you're wasting your time. She's still taking time and giving valuable advice on your stuff.

But Beta reading isn't collaboration. You don't have to make every change that's suggested. She's maybe taken your advice on board but prefers what she had. So as long as you make the effort in return, it's polite, it's fair, and nobody gets hurt.

The Beta experience works trumps because we get an impartial view of everything that we imply. We know our story inside out, but sometimes don't express that hidden knowledge as clearly we hope to. But ultimately, it's up to the writer to make the decision about chopping and changing things.

Regards

Whacko

strictlytopsecret
05-03-2011, 12:53 AM
In other words, continue wasting my time even though I'm going to hate every minute of it.

I agree with you, it is a matter of respect and I can't make her decisions for her. It's just so much time to waste.

I suppose that hinges largely on your definition of "waste".

You indicated that you are benefiting from the relationship. If she did not sense some sort of benefit (in whatever form) as well, she would not continue the relationship.

The benefit she receives may not be in the form of immediate edits she makes based on your recommendations.

Examining the source of your anger may help shed some light.



Are you angry because you feel disrespected?
Are you angry because you feel cheated?
Are you angry because you feel jealous?
Are you angry because fill-in-the-blank?

It can be frustrating when you want someone to behave or respond in a certain way, but they choose otherwise. The bottom line, however, is that her work is hers. And your work is yours.

Both of you are free to make use of editing suggestions as you see fit.

~STS~

scarletpeaches
05-03-2011, 12:55 AM
It's her book. She can do what she likes with it.

amrose
05-03-2011, 01:04 AM
Examining the source of your anger may help shed some light.

I think this is really good advice and I try to follow it whenever I get angry or frustrated with the writing/critique process.

rosepetal720
05-03-2011, 01:07 AM
Are you angry because you feel disrespected?
Are you angry because you feel cheated?
Are you angry because you feel jealous?
Are you angry because fill-in-the-blank?


That's a good question. I'm angry because I was going to work on my book today, but I decided to work on her book instead. I hope I don't come off as haughty or how-dare-you-not-listen-to-me. I just feel a little sick knowing that every minute I'm working on her book needlessly, I could be making a difference in my book.

Whacko, you're right. I'm still getting everything I wanted, right? It's like getting paid to be at a job where you don't do anything important.

Adobedragon
05-03-2011, 01:15 AM
In other words, continue wasting my time even though I'm going to hate every minute of it.

I agree with you, it is a matter of respect and I can't make her decisions for her. It's just so much time to waste.

Well ... doing the beta thing has improved my own writing tremendously. It's taught me how to look at my own writing critically. So I don't think it's a waste of time, even if the writer doesn't make any of the changes I suggest. (Because I do most of my beta/critique reading over at Critters, I usually don't have any kind of relationship with the writer.)

So, the question is does reading and commenting on her work help you? Also, as Chris P suggested up thread, maybe you could simply ask her if your advice was useful to her? Maybe she's looking for something different in a critique.

JoNightshade
05-03-2011, 01:20 AM
Okay, so, based on the following bits of your original post...


They were all changes I felt very strongly about...

If she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do, then aren't we both wasting valuable time?

I don't know if I can grit my teeth and put in all the work to finish her book when it won't make a difference.

It sounds like you're way too invested in her book. It almost sounds like you feel it's YOUR book. It's not. It's hers. She gets to make the choices. Regardless of the quality of her writing, you should never be "telling" someone what to do in a critique. It's a suggestion. No more. She can take it or leave it.

CheG
05-03-2011, 01:49 AM
Lighten the amount of time/work you put into her book. Maybe she just wants a cheer partner which is totally fine. Give a few comments on what you read but it zounds like you don't need to go into depth.

Other than that- we should all be as lucky as you ;)

backslashbaby
05-03-2011, 01:53 AM
I think I've got you :) I hate doing any form of busy-work. Period. But just because she didn't make the changes doesn't mean she didn't mull them over and improve her writing from them. I bet you helped her.

I've had great crits where I learned a lot, but I didn't want to change it in that particular story for my own artistic reasons. I still learned from the folks. Definitely. And I use the advice in more traditional stories.

You might ask her if there is any kind of advice she knows she'll skip because she's going a different way. That happens, depending on how she is going about her story. An example: 'you need more suspense early on' when she knows that she positively doesn't want to heighten things till chapter 2 or whatever. That'll save you work, if she's aware of her spots like that.

shadowwalker
05-03-2011, 01:53 AM
I'm angry because I was going to work on my book today, but I decided to work on her book instead.

So you're angry at her because you decided to work on her book instead of your own.

As others have said, the author is under no obligation to do things your way. If you think you're truly wasting your time, you do need to let the author know, politely, so all parties know where they stand. Otherwise she'll keep sending you work and you'll continue to build resentment.

Polenth
05-03-2011, 02:06 AM
It might be it's a bad idea for you to see the work again after you've offered comments once. I know I don't usually send work to my critique partner more than once (the exception is if I make major changes specifically based on his feedback).

There are diminishing returns to getting the same person to critique the same piece over and over again. It does also open itself to the problem you're seeing: the potential to be upset if the writer went in a different direction to the advice.

(Though personally, I know we have different tastes over some things... it isn't a big deal to me if nothing is changed. I wouldn't critique it again in that situation obviously, as I have nothing new to say, but it's not a big deal.)

DeaK
05-03-2011, 02:19 AM
I would ask her if she could use any of your critique so far. Did she agree with any of your suggestions? Maybe she's still thinking about them. Ask her what kind of crit she is looking for.

Also, if she did revise the chapter, but didn't use any of your specific suggestions, she may still have used your reactions – just not in the way you thought she should.

Anyway, sure, ask her if it's a waste of time for you to crit her work. Ask if there's something else you could do for her instead.

Or just read her book and give your overall impression. I wouldn't want to toss away such a valuable resource just because the person isn't open to the crit (there can be all kinds of reasons for that, and only one of them is that the author truly doesn't think your crit is good).

From your post:


I'm so angry! I've spent a lot of time on her book, and I feel like all that time was wasted. I know it's her book and she should keep it the way she likes it, but if she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do, then aren't we both wasting valuable time? I could spend that effort working on my own novel.

I like to think of critting as being just as much, if not more, about learning for me, as for the person I'm critting. Maybe it will help you to see it that way? Then it's never a waste of time.

You also say "... if she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do..." which makes me want to suggest that you may be looking at beta-ing from an 'unusual' perspective. IMO it is not about telling someone what to do – it is more about sharing your impressions of the work, and if you want, making suggestions for improvements. However, the best improvements will hopefully come from the author, themselves, perhaps based on your impressions.

Smish
05-03-2011, 02:38 AM
I don't think it's ever a waste of time to critique a piece, because I always learn something in the process. I'm very happy when my advice helps someone, but if they decide not to listen to a word I say, I never feel like I've completely wasted my time. It's good practice, after all, for my own work.

And this is a writer who apparently can write fairly well, since she's agented (and apparently has an agent that you find desirable). So, if she doesn't take your advice, she'll probably be okay (she'll make corrections in revision/editing stages, or her agent and/or editor will make suggestions/corrections later), so you don't need to take so much upon yourself.

I'd suggest asking her what sort of critique she's interested in, that way you'll know what type of advice to give. For example, if a critique partner is reading my first draft, I don't expect (or really even want) a detailed, line by line critique; I'd prefer big picture stuff. The nitpicky stuff comes later. :)

Chase
05-03-2011, 02:45 AM
But just because she didn't make the changes doesn't mean she didn't mull them over and improve her writing from them.


Maybe she's still thinking about them.

These are very real possibilities. The one person who I had go ballistic and get all bridge-burning nasty did so while I was thinking over suggestions. My reaction was, "Why should you even care?"

Like others, I don't even want to see revisions, unless I'm specifically asked to do so. Changes -- or not -- are my partner's business, not mine.

Sarah Madara
05-03-2011, 02:58 AM
When a reader suggests a change, I do one of three things:
1) Make the change
2) Decide that something was wrong, but then disagree with the specific diagnosis. Make a different change.
3) Keep my writing as is, after thinking it through. At the end of the process I have a better idea of why I've made the decision I have.

No matter what, I end up with more deliberate choices in my writing, and a clearer vision of what each sentence is supposed to accomplish. Unheeded advice is not wasted advice.

Nightmelody
05-03-2011, 03:25 AM
Like Sarah Madara, I will consider the changes suggested. Sometimes I will see there is an issue but the solution that works for me is none of the suggestions. I usually get several beta reads of the same wip that I suspect needs some changes. I have never even once a sent my revisions back to a beta after I have made changes--plus I might not remember who suggested what change. But I read and consider them.

A beta reader isn't an editor and I am not looking for a proof reader but for more global story and plot issues.

Sometimes I've received beta reads that want absolutley everything changed. I write those off as a reader who doesn't get my voice or has a strong dislike for the type of story I am telling and wants me to tell something else. No hard feelings, I thank them for their time--but I won't send anything to them again.

Silver King
05-03-2011, 04:02 AM
It's being discussed in another thread....


Where else is this being discussed? I'm eager to hear how others are handling this.
Chase might be referring to this (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=212171) thread. It's a few pages long and worth a read, from start to finish.

Laura_6
05-03-2011, 09:10 AM
I think all of us have had this experience and have been annoyed that our suggestions aren't being taken. When I get a revision back and the author hasn't taken my advice, I repeat it in my crit - again!

But I don't take all the advice given to me. One of the hardest things to do is to pick and choose which suggestions feel right.

I think she's obviously getting something out of your crits because she keep cocming back for more. Perhaps she's taking overall plot points or something.

My advice: Be grateful for the help you're getting and let her write the novel she wants to write.

rosepetal720
05-03-2011, 06:01 PM
I never considered that my critique could be helpful to her and myself whether she takes my advice or not. That's a great point.

I did ask her what kind of advice she's looking for, and I think we're on the same page now (hopefully). This experience has taught me about the value of good communication, that's for sure!

Maryn
05-03-2011, 06:15 PM
I suspect the flaw in this arrangement isn't that she's not taking your strongly-held advice, but that she's showing you the revised copy. This is relatively unusual, in my experience.

When you send her your input, tell her you don't need to see the new copy and which revisions she's chosen to make. Problem sidestepped without crushing a single toe.

Maryn, who's never seen corrected copy until she bought the published book

Bufty
05-03-2011, 06:27 PM
Good point there, M.

I couldn't care less what someone does with my comments. I benefit from the exercise.

If I get a simple thankyou - that's quite sufficient. I have no desire to see any revised effort.

The Writer
05-03-2011, 06:28 PM
This experience has taught me about the value of good communication, that's for sure!

I'd give my (humble) opinion on this, but I couldn't have said it better myself.

Honest and respectful communication are the baseline for every relationship, professional or personal. And it is the best way to resolve any conflict or unpleasant situation.

Tell her what frustrates you (politely) and make sure you are on the same page about critiquing each others work.

I hope it works out for you,
good luck!

sunandshadow
05-03-2011, 06:34 PM
I would say the average % of beta changes and suggestions accepted by an author is only around 50%. The author and beta have two different perspectives on a piece of work, because the author knows what was intended and where it's going, and the beta doesn't. Also they may have been educated to use different styles of punctuation, or grown up with different regional grammar. Whether it's an issue of perspective or education/regionality, there's no reason to expect any beta's suggestions to always be better than the original.

Prawn
05-03-2011, 08:50 PM
This has happened to me before. I said, "I think X and Y needs to be fixed because there are serious problems there. If you don't want me to look at X and Y, what should I pay attention to going forward?" They can let you know what they want help with. That way you won't waste your time making comments on stuff they don't care about.

Karen Junker
05-03-2011, 11:11 PM
I feel for you, rosepetal.

I've critted for over 60 AWers. What happens if they don't take my advice about some things (like how to correctly spell the possessive 'its' instead of 'it's') is that I either stop critting for that person or I learn to ignore it. Most of the time I stop critting for that person.

Sometimes I give ideas about how to improve the writing by using more active words. Sometimes it's critique of how the story is playing out, or the dialogue. That's the kind of thing for which the author is ultimately responsible, so I let it go if it appears they aren't taking my advice.

It's unlikely that your crit partner's agent is going to pick you up just because you are her crit partner. You almost have the same odds if you just submit to the agent on your own, without the mention of your crit partner, unless the agent is no longer accepting queries except by referral.

Good luck!

ardenbird
05-06-2011, 02:27 AM
Glad to hear its now working out!

I think somewhere someone said above about how an author might have a different idea for their work. This reminded me of how once an entire crit group (about 5 people) read a story of mine and came up with an overwhelming consensus of what seemed to me to be a set of completely off-the-wall suggestions. A bit of conversation later, I realised what everyone was saying was basically "This reminds me of Harry Potter. Here is what you could do to make it even *more* like Harry Potter (which is really good, and so you want to do that)." At the time, HP was new and I hadn't read it.

What I did: I went and read HP. Agreed it was good. Went back and deleted any little thing in my story that could possibly remind anyone of HP, and wrote the story I mean to write without the unfortunate resemblance.

So their critiques helped enormously, even though I didn't use any piece of them!

stephcamp
05-06-2011, 02:48 AM
I've beta'd for people who don't take my advice, and I've had people read my work and I didn't take a huge portion of their suggestions. Everyone writes different, and has a different vision for their work. It's not really fair to get upset because she doesn't see your suggestions working well for the way that she wants to share her story. If she does a great job reviewing your work, then I'd really have no complaints...

PinkAmy
05-06-2011, 06:44 PM
She sent me a revised version of her first chapter after I made my critiques. Come to find out, she didn't make any of the changes I recommended. I even asked her if she sent my the wrong version on accident. They were all changes I felt very strongly about... most of the chapter was hard to understand.

I'm so angry! I've spent a lot of time on her book, and I feel like all that time was wasted. I know it's her book and she should keep it the way she likes it, but if she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do, then aren't we both wasting valuable time? I could spend that effort working on my own novel.

I don't want to lose her as a partner because the relationship is so beneficial to me (though heaven knows what she's getting out of it). But I don't know if I can grit my teeth and put in all the work to finish her book when it won't make a difference.

This isn't just a rant. I seriously don't know what to do. Help!

IMHO you have the wrong attitude. There could be tons of reasons she didn't take your suggestions. Maybe she doesn't like your suggestions. Maybe she's a better writer than you or she has a different style of writing. Maybe you and she have different ideas about her work.
She's obviously a good writer, she landed an agent. You're the one who is unproven.

You couldn't have expected her to take all of your suggestions. Are you certain she didn't take some of them and not enough for you to be satisfied?

The only way you're going to resolve this is by communicating with her.

If I was the person you were talking about and you told me you were mad I didn't take your suggestions, I'd drop you for being whiny. If you asked me if you were giving me the kind of input I found helpful, and told me you wondered why I didn't seem to use your suggestions, i would respect that. I don't want a beta relationship with someone who's high maintenance or who I have to handhold and reassure.

About 10 people have read my MS. 9 of them and I had a great relationship and understood my approach. 1 was out in left field, but she had a few helpful things to say. I hardly took any of her ideas, but appreciated what she had to say because she is representative of what some people will think about my book.

I hope she doesn't post on AW because writing a post about her, even w/o using her name is inconsiderate. She's a big girl, she can decide if she's wasting her time or not, but you're making a lot of assumptions without talking to her.

Pistol Whipped Bee
05-06-2011, 07:04 PM
[QUOTE=rosepetal720;6100279]I'm so angry! I've spent a lot of time on her book, and I feel like all that time was wasted. I know it's her book and she should keep it the way she likes it, but if she doesn't like what I'm telling her to do, then aren't we both wasting valuable time?[QUOTE]

Telling her? Aren't you in the position to be making suggestions?

You're right. It is her book. From what I can tell it looks to me like your ego is getting in the way of your relationship. You're taking her behavior personally when whether or not she takes your suggestions has nothing to do with you.

This is about her and her book - not you and your suggestions.

Michael Murphy
05-07-2011, 06:59 PM
It doesn't mean she didn't consider your recommendations. Critiquing others' work helps me look for items in my own writing and hones my writing skills.

JayWalloping
05-08-2011, 05:57 PM
She sent me a revised version of her first chapter after I made my critiques. Come to find out, she didn't make any of the changes I recommended. I even asked her if she sent my the wrong version on accident. They were all changes I felt very strongly about... most of the chapter was hard to understand.


I have a question. You did a line edit of her first chapter? I'd ask her how she'd like to get feedback from you? Does she want a line by line? Does she want, 'my reaction to this was confusion,' which would then free her to ask why and put more work into her story.

I've been leaning on a great interview/essay lately at the Paris Review: Editor Robert Gottlieb (http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1760/the-art-of-editing-no-1-robert-gottlieb). A number of his authors give interviews about him. A number say, "he was the perfect thing for me." However, Gottlieb mentions that he had a different relationship with each of them.

For example, he says of one writer that he could always identify a problem for her, but if he tried to suggest a solution it never stuck. That could be where you are in this relationship. Try pointing out where you see problems. Let your friend work out her own answers.

Best of luck.

profen4
05-08-2011, 07:03 PM
Try pointing out where you see problems. Let your friend work out her own answers.



That is very good advice. When I beta I go line by line, but I only offer suggestions for fixes once. I often write comments like: "Awkward paragraph, consider reworking this," "This dialogue is weak," "This is 'telling'." I'll give examples of what might work as a fix in a couple of instances, but I won't do it for the entire manuscript.

JayWalloping
05-10-2011, 01:04 AM
I couldn't care less what someone does with my comments. I benefit from the exercise.

That is the true value of serving as a reader. I get better at reading. Better at reading other work, better at reading the work-in-progress on my own computer. I find it easier to be critical of work that hasn't lived inside my skull for a year or longer. That's why it's a bit easier to sharpen the editing skills on someone else's writing.

Scott S
05-26-2011, 10:38 PM
I don't think I've seen this mentioned yet, so I'll add my two cents worth. Once I read a work and comment, I'm done. I don't want to see it again. In fact, I can't, because as you know, I'm no longer objective. So, anyway, that's my rule to live by.

Rowan
05-27-2011, 06:03 AM
I never considered that my critique could be helpful to her and myself whether she takes my advice or not. That's a great point.

I did ask her what kind of advice she's looking for, and I think we're on the same page now (hopefully). This experience has taught me about the value of good communication, that's for sure!
(Bolding is mine.)

This is what I was going to suggest. ;) I was under the impression you were frustrated because it was a lopsided arrangement. She was helping you a great deal and you felt as if your energy/efforts were wasted because you were unable to help her in return. On top of that, you were spending hours working on her MS--only to discover you missed the mark--when you could have spent the time working on your own MS.

I think my beta partnerships are successful because everyone is polite, constructive and we communicate about our needs. Finding a good writing partner/beta is like finding a great bottle of Bordeaux! Savor the moment. ;)

You said it: communication is key! :)

CAWriter
05-27-2011, 08:38 AM
These are very real possibilities. The one person who I had go ballistic and get all bridge-burning nasty did so while I was thinking over suggestions. My reaction was, "Why should you even care?"

Like others, I don't even want to see revisions, unless I'm specifically asked to do so. Changes -- or not -- are my partner's business, not mine.

I had a critique partner break up our group over this kind of thing. She made one suggestion (about my chapter synopsis, not even the text of the book) that she must have been very attached to, but it violated the intent of that particular chapter for me (her point would have been addressed in a different chapter). She came and lectured me about "never" taking her suggestions and how it was a waste of time, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, she was insulted that I "wasn't willing to learn from her."

The ironic thing was I could have shown her many changes I'd made at her suggestion throughout the chapters of two different projects she'd critiqued. I never threw it back at her that I was published (several times) and she wasn't yet, but she seemed to have this big chip and carried around a prejudice that I wasn't willing to learn from her. I kept wondering why that mattered so much.

I agree with the others that it might be best to make your suggestions and then move on to a different part of the book. Don't worry about whether she's taking your recommendations or not. And if the relationship is otherwise so valuable for you, find a way to make this part of it work.

rosepetal720
06-03-2011, 06:09 PM
I was under the impression you were frustrated because it was a lopsided arrangement. She was helping you a great deal and you felt as if your energy/efforts were wasted because you were unable to help her in return.


That would have been a good attitude to have...

jdm
06-04-2011, 12:05 AM
Or has she taken some of your suggestions and you haven't realized it. The gentleman who critiques for me has made numerous suggestions and given me specific examples of how he would re-write things. Most of the time I take his suggestion but don't use his wording so that I am not relying on someone else to write for me. I can usually figure out a fix once someone has pointed out there is a problem and his examples help me to see it. Perhaps your beta does the same as I.

OpheliaRevived
06-04-2011, 09:46 PM
If she's helped you a lot, I'd be inclined to give her lots of leeway. Dedicated betas are extremely rare. Especially ones that will go through an entire book with you.

Maybe next time just offer general criticism instead of line by line edits.

Erika_Lindsen
06-05-2011, 01:00 AM
One point I haven't seen yet is this: Why are you still betaing for her? Does she, truly and honestly, make your book better? Or are you hoping for an "in" with her agent? I've seen many writers who use others because an agent is involved. Not saying you are, but if your relationship is no longer working for you, why are you sticking with it?

Last night I got a partial beta. The guy read half of my story and stopped because he felt I hadn't edited it. Truth was, I did, many, many times. After reading the comments, it was obvious to me that he was trying to change my voice to be more like his. He called it unedited while I say it is mine. Are these the kind of suggestions you're making?

I also have to agree that it seems you are too invested in HER story. Read the chapter, crit, go on to chapter 2, and repeat. It was said upthread that you shouldn't re-beta. I strongly agree with that.

icerose
06-05-2011, 03:46 AM
My suggestion is to approach it from a different angle. It's possible you're seeing problems and you're making solutions for her. She doesn't agree with your particular solutions and so she is ignoring it because she doesn't agree with the solutions offered.

So instead of offering solutions to problems you see, point out the problems.

So say there's ascene and it's beautiful and good but there's no description. Insert a "Where are we?" or "How did I get here?" or "What does this look like, there are no visuals."

If there's a paragraph that you are going 'what the heck just happened? I don't get it." Then write that you don't get it. Like "You lost me here. I have no idea what you're talking about in this paragraph."

skunkmelon
06-05-2011, 09:20 AM
Really good advice here. I might add that you should consider what type of suggestions she's ignoring. If it's grammar mistakes that she makes over and over despite your corrections, I can see how that would be frustrating.

However, if your suggestions change the flavor, lyricism, plot, character, etc... of her book, then you shouldn't expect her to abide by your suggestions; if she did, she would be writing your book and not hers.

I guess I look at beta reading as a gift I give. I don't expect anything back from it but a thank you and I look on it as a way to improve my writing and help out a fellow writer.

And you can't beat getting to read a free story, either! :)

HistoryLvr
06-13-2011, 07:43 AM
This is a really complicated topic. It's happened to me twice, but in completely different ways. The first time, the author I was critting thought herself generally above my level, so whenever I suggested anything she didn't like, she just chalked it up to me not being a good writer and ignored it. In the end, she completely stopped helping me as soon as I finished her ms, even though she'd only gotten through half of mine. It doesn't sound like this is what you are going through, OP, but it is important to both figure out what you want. If you don't think I'm good enough to help you with x y and z, what do you want? (I know this has already been said, just being thorough ;) )

The second is a young writer who tells a great story, but ignores the general rules of writing fiction. I know, what is a rule, but there are some things that most people who write agree on, such as not using modifiers, -ly words, when a stronger verb is available or when the dialogue makes it clear. When someone ignores something that you know isn't necessarily a SET IN STONE rule, like grammar, which isn't even totally in stone, but you know pretty much any agent will ignore the ms because of, it can be really draining.

I feel kinda like I'm merely wasting everyone's time with this post, but I guess the message I want to get across is I feel ya, and I think almost everyone has experienced it. Where you draw the line is something you need to decide on your own. Do you keep pointing out that there is a place and their is possessive, or do you focus on the larger things and just let them figure it out?

P.S. Having an author who doesn't take your advice isn't someone who takes you advice too much and basically doesn't want to do the time-consuming and usually painful job of line editing a rough draft. Those are the worst!