Crit groups and beta readers represent the deep end of the pool. While I have never been a part of a “formal” crit group, from the very beginning my writing has “gone live” on-line. Having my chapters exposed (to a select group–never to my students! Or in an “open” forum!) has kept me on my toes and working to improve.
Thinking readers are a gift beyond price. The challenge is to outsmart them with unexpected plot twists, and that isn’t easy. Many of my readers are writers themselves, so if I can keep them turning pages, it’s something.
Writers sharing with writers–there’s empowerment when “everybody sings.” In other words, the comradeship of suffering–where each member takes a turn “singing solo”–is like nothing else. My writing class is like a crit group, in that every student has his or her work read aloud. This becomes so freeing that they prefer to hear stories by their own classmates rather than from outside sources.
“Who wrote it?” students always ask. If it’s a graduated senior, I give the name. Funny how they love hearing stories written by people they know. I guess this is human nature. We tend to gravitate to authors who are familiar.
“If you don’t say something, an Amazon reviewer will.” (Along with the dreaded one-star rating.) So if something isn’t working in my story, I’d rather hear about it now. Honesty, tempered with supportive kindness, is important when giving feedback. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
A book will never be perfect, but it can be exciting. Or scary or heartbreaking or a rollicking good read. It’s all about entertainment.
Most of my readers and betas are cyber friends–like you! It’s the oddest feeling to meet up with someone who has “met” me through my books. Like Tonia, a fellow writer who took this fun “book selfie.” I have met so many thoughtful and supportive friends via the Internet.
Tomorrow’s prompt delves into editing, so I’ll begin sharing about my new release. If you’d like to see what other challenge authors are blogging about, you can find their blogs here.