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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Beta + Bitch = Best Friend

People send me stuff all the time to read, wanting my opinion. I love it! Nothing gets my rocks off better than helping someone grow creatively. Everyone needs an extra pair of eyes to see through the crap and find what you’re actually trying to say. Myself included.

When I read a manuscript, I go in thinking, “It’s going to suck absolute ASS! It’s complete and utter tripe that isn’t worth the submission to Fanfiction.net. Brain cells will be lost and I will never recover my original thought capacity. I hate everything that the work and the author stands for, and the flaws that come will be magnified x10 and exploited for my own sick amusement.”

In other words, be a total bitch while critiquing. And with that mindset, the manuscript can only go uphill from there.

Hating a story from word one eliminates any bias for the author. This detachment is necessary in order to give an impartial yet stern critique. I’m not saying send a draft to your arch nemesis, but give it to someone who isn’t afraid to hurt your sensitive feelings for the greater good.

I’ll admit, I do get a little squeamish when writing a critique for someone, afraid how they will take it. And there is such a thing called Diplomacy and Constructive Criticism. At the same time, there is also a thing called Too Damn Bad. A writer doesn’t have their work critiqued for praise. The healthy has no need to go see a doctor. There’s something obviously broken within the manuscript, and it’s a beta’s job to see to the repairs.

I love, Love, LOVE everyone who trusts me enough with their project. That trust is pure and delicate, and it’s only fair that I do right by them and wreck their world up. Once your Tower of Babel falls, a trusty beta will bend over backwards to help rebuild your empire, brick by brick.

So, if you want a Yes Man or an entourage of drones nodding at every clever metaphor you come up with, then by all means, get your BFF to read your book. But if you want to grow as a writer, and take your work to its fullest potential, get a pack of evil harpies who will question every move you make. Trust me; you’ll be better off for it.

8 comments:

  1. It's so much more difficult to dish out criticisms than to take it, in my case. I agree completely, however. Being stern and giving criticisms are the only way you can help improve a manuscript. Whoever has you as their beta-reader is very, very lucky! :)

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  2. now, where to find a beta reader??

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  3. Well said! I honestly think I need that kind of criticism. It stings sometimes, but I think we need people to be straightforward with us if we really want to make writing our career.

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  4. Hmmm... You sound like the kind of beta I want!

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  5. The harshest crit my MS ever got helped it the most. And it was by someone who liked my writing, hated just about everything else about my book. I weeded through the personal taste and came out with MUCH more real characters and authentic plot.

    But, yowzah! did it hurt at first!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just the other day I gave a critique and was not approached by that person again. I knew I probably hurt her feelings. But you hit the nail in the head. I felt bad the whole weekend. Thanks for the post, and the reality check.

    ReplyDelete
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