Writers are taught to just listen in a critique group when it’s their turn. To just listen and take it all in. Don’t defend their work. So how do you respond when someone wants to sit down and discuss your project, requiring a back and forth interaction? Act scared? Run from it? Embrace it?
I chose to embrace the situation. I’m used to reading comments in the margins, but it couldn’t hurt to hear what my beta-reader had to say. I was nervous (hopefully Mike couldn’t tell I kept tapping my foot and fidgeting with my hands hee hee) but played it cool. By the end of the conversation, I was at ease.
I took his suggestions for improvements and his compliments all in. I’m looking forward to the challenge of some rewriting required to polish One By One. In fact, on my lunch break, I went to the library to outline new plots and motives, feeling motivated. Throughout the conversation, I was all smiles–which was weird to be happy about someone critiquing something personal of mine.
But I couldn’t stop thinking how awesome it was that Mike took time out of his busy schedule to do me a favor. He didn’t have to, especially since he did it for free. The fact that he took the time to not only write in the margins but also suggested the talk will always be cool beans in my book. His feedback was insightful and helped me realize some of the kinks I need to work out. I’d rather hear it at this stage instead of have an editor rip my story apart.
Things I need to work on:
- Elaborate more on characters’ motives
- Re-tweak some plot points so everything connects together
- Pace myself and stay consistent
- Etc, etc
Thanks again Mike for being my first beta-reader to return my story. Once I receive my other beta’s feedback, I’ll start revising and editing again. I guess my 90 Day Novel will have competition for my attention around that time.
For writers out there, I encourage you to interact with people taking the time to read your work, if you can. There’s nothing more valuable than getting to hear answers to specific questions you may have regarding story elements. For a chance to guide the critique instead of just relying on what someone wrote. And a chance to reveal apart of your writing style or routine to them, so they can understand you a little better.