mollyringle: (Gutenberg)
[personal profile] mollyringle
14.     Listen to your critique team.

When you’ve acquired beta readers (or alpha readers, or critiquers, or whatever their chosen label is), and they’ve read your rough draft and sent you their thoughts, now is the time to exercise gratitude, as all the self-help books urge lately. Believe me, I know from experience that it’s nerve-racking to hand over your literary concoction to other people and open yourself up to anything they might say about it. But chances are they’ll be nice—those dreadful creative-writing peer-review small-group college classes being the only likely exception—and in any case they have definitely done you a favor by devoting time and thought to your draft. So listen to what they say! And consider all of it.

You don’t have to make all the changes they suggest. Use your intuition on that. Also consider doing it by democratic vote: if you have more than one beta reader (which is best if you can swing it), and the majority of the team agrees on a proposed change, then it’s probably a good idea.

Sometimes they’ll suggest changes that you do not like. But spend some time with the suggestion anyway, before responding. I’ve done this on many occasions, and have gone through the following succession of thoughts:
“Noooo, I don’t want to write it that way.”
“I mean, if I did, it would change X, Y, and Z, which…hmm, that might not be too bad…”
“Oh! Wait! I might not do it exactly like they said, but if I make THIS change, which is similar, it’ll be even better!”
“Yay! I love this book even more now! My beta readers are awesome!”

And, on the bright side, they’ll probably also tell you stuff they loved about the book, which you won’t have to change at all. So bask in that part. You’ve earned it.

Go write! Go be grateful! We’re done here! :)
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