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Defending Your Work (1 Viewer)

luckyscars

WF Veterans
With Beta readers, it is best to STFU.
As soon as you start arguing with a Beta, they will clam up, and the feedback will stop flowing.

100% agree. Arguing or otherwise getting defensive with beta readers (or any readers, really) is plain unprofessional. Do McDonalds argue with the taste testers when they're rolling out a new recipe of McNuggets? It's like chefs who get combative because somebody didn't like their food. It's weird.

The whole point of having work beta read is to get a subjective impression. The idea of a beta reader is to road-test your work with somebody who would be your target audience. If the beta reader thinks your story doesn't work it's either because (1) It doesn't work or (2) The beta reader was not the target audience and the work was a bad fit - for example, asking a conservative, religiously-inclined reader to give you feedback on your blasphemy-riddled, sexually-charged splatter punk novel probably won't get you very useful or postiive feedback.

Both of those things are, ultimately, aspects in the writer's control, that the writer has to take responsibility for. It's like those dingbats who go on those TV pop star shows and start screaming death-metal style in the audition, then act shocked when Simon Cowbell or whatever his name is doesn't like it.

Whether or not a story works should not come down to a single piece of feedback...but if you're going to get something beta read, for goodness sake make the most of it. Select the volunteer with a little thought, be respectful toward them and their time, and if they don't like it, that's your problem not theirs. If they can't 'see' something it might be because they're wrong, or it just might be because you're not the greatest writer who ever walked the earth.
 
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seigfried007

Senior Member
I don't think arguing with a beta reader should ever be done, but I do think respectful discussions should happen wherever possible. I've received some vague feedback on occasion, and to make such feedback useful, conversations had to happen. Plus, my betas have all become friends with me anyway.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
It took me a long time to learn to STFU when debriefing Beta readers.
But then, I'm an asshole. Even says so on Amazon.
In fact, I typically send a questionnaire along with the book so they can make their comments free of my hawkish gaze.
It also keeps them from feeling on-the-spot when you ask hard questions.
 

Art Man

Senior Member
With Beta readers, it is best to STFU.
As soon as you start arguing with a Beta, they will clam up, and the feedback will stop flowing.

I wouldn't be argumentive but if a beta reader simply said, "Remove this paragraph." without an explanation I would probably ask why he thinks it should be removed.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I wouldn't be argumentive but if a beta reader simply said, "Remove this paragraph." without an explanation I would probably ask why he thinks it should be removed.

A beta reader probably wouldn't say that, though. An editor would, because an editor is there to edit. A beta reader is there to provide an opinion on the story, not tell you what to do.

If a beta reader did mention something alone those lines, however, I think it would be fine to ask why they think what they think. What would NOT be fine is to then say "YEAH BUT THIS IS WHY..."

This isn't a Blu Ray special edition, you don't get to insert explanatory footnotes or audio commentary in a written story. You aren't entitled to right-of-reply (well, you're entitled to it, but it makes you sound like an ass IMO).

Bottom line: If your beta reader's feedback indicates your meaning was not totally clear enough for them to see what you end up wishing to 'defend', then you need to shut up and take that on board. Then maybe go away and rewrite the work so that you don't have to explain or defend things to readers.
 

RLBeers

Senior Member
When I read a comment on my work from a critic who has no relationship with the series, I usually discount it as they do not know the backstory, but still, if the critique (one recent comes to mind) has value to offer, I use it, shamelessly.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
Sure, it's okay to ask probing questions. But I desperately try to not turn it into an interrogation.
If they thought a section need to be cut, I would be curious.
After all, every writer has a blind spot for their own work. You simply cannot see your flaws.


Also, when I beta test a book, it is a real BETA, not an Alpha.
So I am looking for broad strokes from the readers. I tell them I am not looking for proofreading so much as big overview.
After the Beta readers I still proof the book a few times.


Alpha: Having the book read BEFORE major editing.
Beta: Having the book read when it is practically perfect in every way.
 

Moose.H

Senior Member
I have my work checked and edited well before a Beta. Having submitted something inadequate I felt humiliated and that has had an immense positive effect on my writing. Writing is a skill that requires practice and criticism as the author often gets too close to their content and leaves issues inadequately covered or gets to verbal. I listen to criticism and use it.
Heck maybe because I know I am ADHD and dyslexic...
 

JohnCalliganWrites

Senior Member
Sure, it's okay to ask probing questions. But I desperately try to not turn it into an interrogation.
If they thought a section need to be cut, I would be curious.

Personally, I never ask, because usually betas will have already volunteered that kind of information if they have it, which is usually only possible from other writers.

Being asked to cut something from a non-writer usually means it was tiring to read, boring, or stupid. Someone who knows more about craft might say, "this scene does nothing but deliver exposition about world building, so I think it should be cut and the world building put somewhere else." The writer might hear that and agree, or they might decide that they lost track of the necessary desire line and add MORE exposition to explain the character's goals and emotional change, but that's up to the writer.

If a non-writer or novice says, "cut this," lol I probably don't want to hear "boring" from them that much.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
I have my work checked and edited well before a Beta. Having submitted something inadequate I felt humiliated and that has had an immense positive effect on my writing. Writing is a skill that requires practice and criticism as the author often gets too close to their content and leaves issues inadequately covered or gets to verbal. I listen to criticism and use it.
Heck maybe because I know I am ADHD and dyslexic...


Yesss! This is a biggie for me: Having my work fully proofed and edited before sending it to betas.
See, when someone reads your manuscript, errors will bias them against your work.
Psychologically they go from seeing you as one of those thinkers who has written a book...to an ordinary person who makes errors that they were able to see.
Once the reader starts to think they are smarter than the writer, they will treat your work differently (and I don;t mean that in a positive way.)

So I always try to give betas as clean a manuscript as possible so they are not at all distracted by errors & typos.
I'm not looking for proofreading...I am looking for feedback on the big-picture of my story.
 

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