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Breaking up is hard to do…

FB BG AIRI made a difficult decision this week.

I’m breaking up (temporarily) with my beta readers.

Now, let me say that I love my beta readers. Truly. Most of them are writers. So they get what I’m looking for when I ask questions about a chapter or a set of chapters. But lately, for whatever reason, it’s not working.

This is the classic “It’s not you, it’s me” argument. Because I really do think that’s the case.

Let me explain.

If you’ve been following my blog of late, you’ve seen that the last two books that I’ve written (and sent to editing) have come back needing major changes. Yet my beta readers loved both of them.

So why did my beta readers love the books but my editors didn’t? Well, let’s explore that. First, the books weren’t…bad. They weren’t right, but they weren’t necessarily bad.

Revelations in Blood had some good dialog, great love scenes (if I do say so myself) and a very evil bad guy. Rich description of Italy. Good food. Wine. There was a lot of growth for one character. Not so much for another. It was an okay book sequel. But it suffered from sequel syndrome…nowhere near as good as the first in the series. It wasn’t was up to my standards.

A Shift in the Air had a very evil bad guy (too evil), a passionate, though deeply flawed, love story, and more rich description. It had danger. Recovery. There was some emotion there. Again, it was an okay book. I could have published it and it probably would have done all right. But it wouldn’t have lived up to A Shift in the Water because the lore wasn’t there. It didn’t adequately set up for the next book. And the characters didn’t go through a proper growth arc. They were flat and many of their reactions either didn’t match who they were or didn’t match who they should have been.

So why did my betas not catch these issues? Because they weren’t looking for them. As I write, I have doubts. Every author does. Is this the right direction for this chapter? Is this the right reaction for this character? And so I asked questions. But they weren’t the right questions, and so they didn’t yield the right answers.

Editors know the right questions. It’s an editor’s job to look at your work objectively. Despite the fact that I am one, and I can ask these objective questions of my clients, I’m not great of asking them of myself. Why? Well, that’s a question for another post, but as a quick answer, it’s because as a writer, you’re too close to your work to see the flaws.

So I’m taking a break from my beta readers. I need to spend some time in my own head, figuring out how not to have this happen again.

 

1 Comment

  • allyn lesley Posted April 27, 2015 1:15 pm

    Great post and a difficult decision to come to.

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