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Defending Your Work (1 Viewer)

A_Jones

Senior Member
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.
 
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shadowwalker

WF Veterans
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.
 

Gavrushka

WF Veterans
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.
 

Nemesis

The Black Goat
WF Veterans
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.
 

Sam

General
Patron
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.
 

Gargh

WF Veterans
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.
 

A_Jones

Senior Member
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.
 

ppsage

WF Veterans
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_Jones

Senior Member
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. :)
 

Morkonan

WF Veterans
The way I look at it is this:

What a Beta reader says they have read is what they have read, regardless of whether or not I wrote it or intended to write it. If they don't come away with what I intended them to come away with, it's my fault. My fault, not the Beta reader's fault. I am, after all, responsible for what was written on the page. If I failed to communicate appropriately and a Beta reader just doesn't "get it", then that's my problem, regardless of whether or not they're a drooling idiot or a scholar.

Some people aren't cut out to be Beta readers and some writers don't deal well with them. Whatever the case, there must always be a shared understanding between any two people engaged in cooperative effort - Honesty must infect everything you do. The Beta reader/writer relationship is also a cooperative effort, not an adversarial one. If one of the two doesn't understand that, then it's the responsibility of the other to illuminate their partner. Usually, this is the role of the writer. The writer must do what they can to foster the relationship that best helps them create the work. While it is truly a cooperative effort, most times, the end-game is always the same - The writer will write it and put their name on it and that means they own it, for better or worse.

If one wishes to use Beta readers and wishes good results from that relationship, one has to "own" the entire process and that includes the relationship between Beta reader and writer. One must take responsibility, as a writer dependent upon the contributions of a volunteer workforce, to foster an appropriate relationship. If it turns out that the relationship is unproductive or even harmful for the process of creation, then it's also the writer's responsibility to end it peacefully. And, that's not an easy thing to do. Some people take such a relationship very personally, so take some care to let them down easily.
 

egpenny

Senior Member
A quote from Gargh: 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.

The key words in that sentence are final draft. If a writer sends out a manuscript with spelling errors, same sounding word errors, and other obvious mistakes, and then complains that they didn't ask for all the corrections, it's confusing to me.

I can't in good consciousness Beta read something and not correct those obvious errors. When someone reads my work, I want to know every single thing that stops them while they are reading. If they stop reading, then I've done something wrong. Period.

Perhaps I have the term Beta reader and editor mixed-up...I don't know. Someone set me straight.


The above is a personal reaction toward something I read for someone who will remain nameless.
 
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TKent

Retired Chief Media Manager
There is no one answer to this. Some beta readers do proofing in addition to providing impressions, continuity issues, etc. If you get that then thank the high heavens for it. It's a bonus! I read a book by Martin Crosbie, a self-published author (I think it was in his book) where he goes through his process. He writes the full story, then has a group of beta readers read it, then revises it, then sends to editor, then has a group of beta readers read it again and says they almost always catch some final proofing errors. The most important thing is to communicate clearly with a potential beta reader up front if you have specific expectations. Then that person can either choose to read for you or not. Anything you and a reader agree on is fine. Like anything else though, there are guidelines that are generally accepted (which LeeC has been kind enough to share here) so in lieu of specific agreements otherwise, that's kind of what you should expect.
 

InnerFlame00

Senior Member
If the reader can't see what the writer sees, then the writer needs to work harder to make sure that it is clear. Of course, keeping in mind that when you write a book not everyone is going to get it, but the majority should. For example, I was arguing with my friend about how much I hated her MC because her love interest loved her for seemingly no reason and there was nothing special about her. She got upset at first, but then realized that she spent all her time constructing the love interest's past and no time on her MC. On the other hand sometimes I will bring something up and she will explain to me why I'm wrong about that, and that will help her to be more detailed about her point. Gotta get dirty to get it done lol. Mostly its about not taking it personally.
 

shadowwalker

WF Veterans
They know it isn't perfect – that's why they're seeking the services of a beta.

That's a far cry from saying the beta will make it perfect. It's only saying the author knows it's still in need of work (if it were perfect, there'd be no need of a beta).
 

Sam

General
Patron
Ppsage, if you thought I was saying that beta readers will make work perfect, your reading comprehension could use a bit of work.

The reason why people seek beta readers is because their novel needs work, i.e. it isn't perfect. I thought that would have made sense to a fellow writer and reader.
 

A_Jones

Senior Member
Ok it is obvious that everyone has a different view of what is expected out of a beta reader and that is fine. BUT here on WF we need to uphold what WF expects out of Beta readers. So I suggest everyone read what LeeC posted about the expectations of a beta reader. This site has done its best to be as professional as it can be and the Admins have gone out of there way many times to make it so. The least we can do is follow their suggestions on how to keep it as professional as possible.
 

Galen

WF Veterans
A quote from Gargh: 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.

The key words in that sentence are final draft. If a writer sends out a manuscript with spelling errors, same sounding word errors, and other obvious mistakes, and then complains that they didn't ask for all the corrections, it's confusing to me.

I can't in good consciousness Beta read something and not correct those obvious errors. When someone reads my work, I want to know every single thing that stops them while they are reading. If they stop reading, then I've done something wrong. Period.

Perhaps I have the term Beta reader and editor mixed-up...I don't know. Someone set me straight.


The above is a personal reaction toward something I read for someone who will remain nameless.

From my understanding of "Beta Reader", they are NOT editors. Specifically, they do not edit because a beta reader is essentially giving you a gut reaction to your work.
 

shadowwalker

WF Veterans
From my understanding of "Beta Reader", they are NOT editors. Specifically, they do not edit because a beta reader is essentially giving you a gut reaction to your work.

For me, a beta reader is whatever the reader and writer agree it to be. I've done everything from simple proofreading to delving into plot and characterization - it all depended on what the writer wanted/needed. And I've also read everything from broad first drafts to ready for submission. As long as both parties know the ground rules and follow them, the relationship should work.
 

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