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Monday, January 7, 2013

Being a Good Beta-Reader

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Today's post is all about taking criticism and giving it. Please note that I am in no way a professional on this subject and this post is based on speculation only.

I'm terrible at taking criticism.

There. Now it's out in the open.

Hearing people speak against my writing brings me close to tears most of the time. First I get sad. Then angry. And then I plot revenge. So, yeah. I need to work on that. If you're anything like me, you'll understand.

I get that critique partners and beta-readers are there to help, but I having trouble accepting their help. I like to do things on my own. My way. I also like to be in control of things, which is why handing my manuscript over to a complete stranger scares me so much. Yet, it also excites me. It reminds me that my manuscript is about to get that much better.

So, here's my method of coming to terms with critiques. Step number one, read through all of the critiques. Every single one of them. Let your anger or sadness start to boil inside of you.

Step number two, scream. Shout, yell, sob. I don't care. Let your emotions out. Trust me, it helps. Most of the time, I grumble and complain to myself. I let anger seethe in my brain. I make plans to get back at my beta-reader. And that leads us to step three.

Step number three, cast your feelings aside. They don't really matter anymore. Mull over the critiques for about a week or so then come back to them. This is really the most important out of all the steps. If you step away from your computer for awhile, you'll come back with a much clearer head and you'll probably be able to see what your beta-reader was talking about. It is during this step that I do my best work.

That's how to take criticism. Now onto giving it better.

The most important thing to remember is to ask questions. If something doesn't makes sense ask about it. Why did this person do that? Where did she come from? Why is he mad at so-and-so? If you are confused, then the writer didn't do their job write (see what I did there?). They shouldn't have to explain things step by step to you. Anything that doesn't sound right, ask the writer to change it. Whether it be sentences, paragraphs, or whole chapters. No one said revising would be easy. And don't forget to tell them what you like! You have to give good news with the bad otherwise people will think you're really sadistic.

All-in-all, I'm much better at dishing out criticism then taking it myself. And, remember, you don't have to listen to a word I say. It's just my experience with critiquing. At any rate, I hope you've benefited somehow from reading this post. Or, at least been amused by it. ;)

Inquiry of the Day:

How are you at taking criticism? More importantly, how do you deal with it?

I've realized that I've been lacking in the recipe department of late and I promise to be back on track soon!    


  1. Haha I like your honesty =)
    For some reason, if a complete stranger is editing/commenting on something, I'm fine and take their suggestion (if it makes sense).
    If it's someone related to me, or a close friend, I for some reason take it super personally. No clue why. I guess I'm a perfectionist ;p

    1. Thanks for being such a dedicated reader! I really appreciate it! =D

      I don't like anyone looking at my work. Stranger or not. But I know it's for the best, so I've learned to control my temper somewhat. And don't worry, we're all perfectionists in one way or another. ;)


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