So, I’ve been thinking about alpha-reading lately.
Not doing it myself, though I have done it before.
I’ve been thinking about the friends who will be reading LASER as soon as I get it typed up.
I’ve been thinking about critiques and feedback, too. (Not sure what the difference is there, honestly.)
There are few things I think you need when you are preparing to get feedback for your writing.
First, you need the readers themselves.
This is fairly obvious. I was fortunate enough to find my beta-readers for TCF easily. I had a few good writing friends already. One of them was someone who was offering beta-reading as a service (I beta-read for her in exchange). One was someone who had seen the pitch for TCF and offered to beta-read. One of my betas had to hint at me to ask if he wanted to beta-read
akin to prying that manuscript out of my cold, unconscious fingers (I did want him to read it, really. It was just rather nerve-wracking and I wasn’t sure what he was saying with all his encouragement for me to find critiquers.) A couple of these are going to be alphas for LASER.
But it may not be that easy for you. If you are just dipping your toes into finding writing friends, then this could be rather intimidating. You may not know any writers, online or in real life. So what do you do?
Find a writing community. Go Teen Writers is a good place. So is NaNoWriMo YWP. (Assuming you’re a teen for both of those, that is.) I actually found mine through their blogs. Commented on their blogs, got to know them, they got to know me. Eventually, we decided we were friends (not literally…) and the rest is history.
Some places occasionally host a critique partner match up. Go Teen Writers did not too long ago. And I think Maggie Stiefvater is actually doing it now.
Second thing you need is to let go.
Let go of your fear. Let go of your desire for perfection. Let go of how terrible you think this story is and how awesome it is at the same time.
Your readers are doing this to help you find the bugs in your work. They expect bugs.
If they’re the right kind of people, they won’t be mean about it, either. (If you get a mean critique, you may want to consider how important the feedback is and whether or not you should ask them for this anymore.)
Third, realize that feedback hurts no matter who it comes from.
When a writer writes a story, they put a little of their soul into it. Not consciously, it just happens. So hearing something is wrong with the story can feel like they’re saying something is wrong with you.
What do you do about this then? Let go. They aren’t attacking you. Don’t defend the story (if you have to defend it, chances are good that you didn’t include all the information that was necessary and that’s a good thing to know). If you are getting feedback via email, don’t answer specifically to the feedback then. Go ahead and thank your reader for the feedback and maybe ask if you can talk about this in depth at a later time. But when you first get the feedback and see the difficult stuff, go ahead and cry about it.
It’s okay to be upset or frustrated (don’t tell said reader that you’re crying or frustrated). Writing is frustrating. Have some chocolate and take the day off. Once you’re calm, go back to the feedback.
Fourth, be willing to alpha or beta read for them.
They’re doing this for you, reading a less than perfect story and then telling you what’s wrong with it. That’s time-consuming and occasionally difficult. Be willing to do the same for them or pay them back somehow.
Fifth, realize that the story is yours.
This is your story. You don’t have to take any of the advice you were given if you don’t agree with it. But do consider the feedback carefully and always be gracious.
Sixth, editing is not as terrible as it seems.
Good feedback will not just tell you the bad stuff. It includes some of the good stuff, too. Be sure to notice the good stuff because it’ll help keep you motivated and encouraged. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your readers for clarification or specific feedback. One of my friends just wants my reactions to the story. I plan to ask him for specific stuff when I send him LASER
which I really need to hurry up and type up…
Any other advice that should be added to this list? I hope this post is helpful!