By Catherine Hudson
Last time I wrote for ACW I talked about Beta readers. You can read that post here. Now I want to talk about after you’ve received your work back from the Beta readers.
First of all, breathe. All that red ink may be giving you heart palpitations and we don’t need a coronary on our hands.
What’s needed now is a teachable spirit.
Huh? Well, no one ever grew or changed for the better without hearing some good home truths that motivated change. It can be hard to have someone find fault with your manuscript, and it can feel like a personal attack. You may even sit alone in your office and yell at the Beta readers and critique partners.
But that backstory needs to be there! Otherwise the reader can’t possibly understand why she avoids falling in love!
But that cliché is the perfect description!
I’ve cut 50,000 words. It’s impossible to cut any more!
The classic: But my mother loved my story!
Or in my case, My dialogue is not torturous! That’s how they spoke in 1870!
Ok, let’s take another deep breath and grab some tissues. This is not personal, it’s not the end of the world, it will pass, it will be worth it and you will thank the Beta readers—after you finish yelling at them in the privacy of your office. Don’t go emailing them. Sit on it a day or two. A week or month maybe. And, most of all, pray.
As Christians we know that we have a flesh or sin nature that can inhibit our ability to see things as they truly are. We can agree and disagree over the same issue more than once in our lifetime and retrospect gives us the ability to see the benefit of a painful truth—but generally only later.
As Christian writers it is essential to have our hearts soft enough and in tune with the Holy Spirit to hear and address what is necessary. This is a teachable spirit.
Our writing (or us personally?) will grow—but only if we move past the point of hurt, anger or offence, and be willing to hear. I didn’t want to hear that my dialogue was torturous.
But. It. Was.
I took those hurtful words and researched better writing craft. And I realised something—I could make the necessary changes without loosing the message contained in my story. If anything, most advice will tighten your work and make the communication clearer and more appealing—it did for me.
And isn’t that what we want?
Industry standards are set for a good reason, but we cannot benefit from those who have gone before us unless we are willing to listen, change and grow. All that starts with a teachable spirit.
I’ll leave you with something my prayer partner taught me. If there are two ways to take something and one offends you—choose the other option. More than likely it will leave you a better person, or in this case, writer.
What’s been your experience? Tell us a time you had a cry/rant/rave then decided to hear the truth of what was said, and put in the time to improve your manuscript (or yourself).
Andrea Grigg will be posting on 4 April, offering us another attribute needed to get through the dreaded editing-after-beta-readers. Look forward to seeing you then!