Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thought on Beta Readers

Just had this thought, not entirely unique, but certainly relevant about: beta readers. 'Tis the month of NaNo, and writing is all abuzz on the brain...oh, and turkey and family as well—to be sure, and certainly not in that order.

We write, we revise, we polish and we send for beta—for those of us serious about the craft. But what is the beta about? Do they tell you how marketable your manuscript is, fix your typos, point out grammatical flaws and bizarre lines of thought? They do all of this and much more, but here's the most important part:
The beta reading process is about getting the writer to realize what they wrote versus what they imagined as they wrote.
Because, when it comes down to it, the writer knows their story best. They know of the hopes and dreams of their characters, the depth of their setting and how meaningful the plot will become when it is revealed in all of its glory. But sometimes it just looks like a big mess. All of that brilliance remains firmly (and solely) stuck in our head. Hence the beta reader. An impartial (hopefully) third party that will look at the only thing that matters—what is written—and will tell you what they see.

An important distinction to remember, as we all get so mired in our own work and ideas that we forget to (and perhaps can't) step back to see what the work has become. But don't do that now. If you're still striving for that goal of 50,000 words by month end, keep on pushing. I'm right alongside you in spirit.

So there's a thought to consider when you are revising your hastily scribbled manuscript of 50,000 words, come December or the New Year.

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