Defending Your Work


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Thread: Defending Your Work

  1. #1
    Member A_Jones's Avatar
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    Defending Your Work

    Ok I know there is a lot of looking down the nose at writers who defend their work. Why? Do you think you are all knowing and smart enough to KNOW that what they did there was wrong and the only way to fix it is to get rid of it?

    Of COURSE not! No when you are BETA reading a writers piece you can see things they cant this is soooo true, but they also see things you can't that is why it is SO valuable to them that they defend them selves. Then together you can find ways of which they can polish their work.

    So please my writers, defend your work. NEVER take my word or suggestions as law (or even as speculation) take them as the start of a discussion that will ultimately lead to your triumph.

    And my beta readers, expect the same from me.

    EDIT: By defending their work I mean to ask the beta reader Why they feel the way they do. Only through follow up questions do I believe a writer will learn how to fix their mistakes and grow. I did not mean they should blatantly tell the beta reader they were wrong. Beta readers are in a position to tell you what a reader doesnt get. It doesnt matter what you think, they will always be right about whether or not it works for them. I am just saying it is important for a writer to ask why.
    Last edited by A_Jones; December 11th, 2014 at 05:20 PM.
    Just another person trying to make her mark on the world. Everyone has something to say. I hope someday mine might be heard. I am looking for people who are like me.
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  2. #2
    Nobody should take anyone else's word or suggestions as law, and discussing problem areas is fine - but if you feel you have to 'defend' your work, you're not ready for a beta. Betas are there to critique, not debate. I've done quite a bit of beta work over the years, and if an author implied my comments were 'wrong', or I 'didn't get it', I learned to just quit. I took my spare time and a lot of effort to give them my opinions and suggestions at no charge, knowing full well (and always telling them) that they were free to take or reject any or all of it. But if they want to whine about how I got it all wrong and convince me of their greatness - yeah, I'm not wasting my time on that. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
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  3. #3
    WF Veteran Gavrushka's Avatar
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    Ah, for me, it's not a question of defending my work, but respecting the opinion of the reader. - I can agree it is their opinion without agreeing they are right, and so don't think any good would come of a defence, (factual issues aside, obviously.)

    My writing would be a lot poorer without betas and I'd be a fool to rely on my own counsel.
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  4. #4
    I agree with Shadow, there's a difference between having a conversation about your work with the beta and "defending" your work.

    Sometimes a critique can be hard to swallow and sometimes it might even miss the mark, but getting upset over it and arguing with the person who is taking the time to read everything you've written and give you their opinion on it is counter productive at best.

    "It's only falling in love because you hit the ground."- "I Appear Missing", Queens of the Stone Age

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  5. #5
    This thread tells me you're not ready for a beta reader.

    The whole point of a beta reader is to tell a writer what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. What the writer does with that is entirely their prerogative. But if a writer has a hissy fit with me and screams, "You don't see what I see!", I'm never being a beta for them again. Why? Because it tells me they don't want to hear the truth. They want to be told their work is awesome. Plus, if you have to show me what I'm supposed to get from reading a particular scene, that scene doesn't work. Period.

    People who are ready for beta readers don't need to defend their work. They know it isn't perfect – that's why they're seeking the services of a beta.
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  6. #6
    OP: Asking for a beta read is explicitly asking for subjective opinion, that's what you need at that stage, not an open forum discussion. If one person reads and doesn't understand X then it's possible they just don't get your work, so give them the respect of having another quick look at it but if you're still happy then just say thanks and move on. But if several people read it and don't get X? Then you know you have a problem that needs fixing. The most I would ever question betas on is to ask if they can elaborate on why X, Y or Z didn't work for them, to ask for further help in understanding the disparity between my intent and their read.

    If readers feel like they can't be completely open and honest without getting into a debate, then you won't get real feedback and the whole process is meaningless. Betas are often readers, not writers, and are commenting on the piece as a whole and don't give a fig what your intent was; if they don't get it, they don't get it, that's all. The sheer beauty of the system is that they only have your final draft to comprehend the story from, exactly the same as any other reader you wish to sell to. It's your responsibility to ensure your work is understood the way you want it to be and it's better to be realistic at this stage about whether you've achieved that, with betas who are confident they can be forthright with you.
    “Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won't have to hunt for happiness.”



  7. #7
    Member A_Jones's Avatar
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    Haha I suppose we have a different vocabulary when it comes to the word DEFEND. I really just meant the ability to converse about a problem area. If a beta reader tells you an area is a problem, my suggestion is to talk to them about what you can do to make that area an effective bit of writing.

    I want my writers to ask me WHY I felt that way about that area, so that they can make it better, not just get rid of it! The reason I say this is because I had a writer a while back who accepted everything I suggested. Key word here suggested. I said that I didnt understand an area and I felt they should take it in a different direction.

    Later I got a very angry email about how they had to rewrite an entire section because of my suggestion and now they are stuck. I wish they had just talked to me about my suggestion rather than taking it blindly. I have had only one other such situation happen to me so nowdays I just suggest people never sit back and take my help quietly, let me know what you think of them.
    Just another person trying to make her mark on the world. Everyone has something to say. I hope someday mine might be heard. I am looking for people who are like me.
    "I hope your bacon burns," -- Calcifer Howl's Moveing Castle Diana Wynne Jones

  8. #8
    I totally agree that one should not argue with persons volunteering to give you their effort and opinion. That being said, however, I find the idea that beta readers are some kind of path to literary perfection completely laughable.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ppsage View Post
    I find the idea that beta readers are some kind of path to literary perfection completely laughable.
    Who said or even implied that? Betas are a second, hopefully objective, set of eyes. Nothing more, nothing less.
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  10. #10
    Member A_Jones's Avatar
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    I have discovered that peoples ideas of a Beta reader on this site are extremely different than what I learned in other writers circles. I think I understand now and I shall amend my statement.

    I would personally like to provide a deeper service when elected to be a writers Beta reader by helping them delve deeper into why they wrote what they did and why it doesnt work properly. So feel free to ask me why I feel strongly about an area of your work.

    However I will not expect it of any Beta readers of mine.
    Just another person trying to make her mark on the world. Everyone has something to say. I hope someday mine might be heard. I am looking for people who are like me.
    "I hope your bacon burns," -- Calcifer Howl's Moveing Castle Diana Wynne Jones

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