If you’ve written a book, you may be reluctant to hand your baby to other people. What if they tear it apart? What if they don’t like it?
But if you intend to publish, letting other people read your book beforehand is an absolute necessity. Better to hear criticism when the problems can still be addressed, rather than getting a negative review later. And while it will always be a little nerve-wracking, I do promise sharing your book for critique will get easier.
“But I am really good at self-editing!” I can hear you protesting. You might be, but you still need other eyes on your work. Here are just a selection of the things a beta reader or a critique partner (CP) can catch that will often go unnoticed by the author:
1. Your writing crutches.
We all have them. Mine include: “slightly”, “for a moment”, and a tendency to repeat myself.
A good beta or CP can point these out. Overused words, writing tics, or even just a sentence structure you use too often (gerunds, gerunds everywhere).
You might think you’re pretty adept at picking these out on your own, but you’ll be surprised how many slip by until someone else mentions them.
2. Plot holes.
This seems obvious, but I have had some fairly major plot holes that completely skipped my notice until a CP pointed them out. Maybe a character can’t reasonably get from point A to point B in time. Maybe you’ve created a minor paradox somewhere.
Or in my case, you’ve cut a scene and happened to remove a single line of crucial information in that chapter.
3. Information that’s in your head but not in the book.
We all do it. The scene plays out perfectly in our brain and the words flow onto the page, conveying it exactly as we see it in our mind’s eye.
Until later when someone asks, “where does this conversation even take place?” and you realize you just kind of… forgot to put the setting on the page. Oopsie.
But since that was part of the scene in your head, those missing details can sometimes escape your notice despite multiple re-reads.
4. Factual errors.
Maybe you just always assumed pineapples grew on trees. Or you accidentally put an anachronistic item in your historical fantasy that a reader will ping as inaccurate.
You can do all the research in the world, but little things you never even thought to study can still trip you up, and a sharp-eyed beta or CP can sometimes help catch them.
5. Minor inconsistencies.
Did that character’s eyes switch from blue in chapter 1 to brown in chapter 5? Or did someone just run their fingers through hair that was described as braided just a moment ago? You’d be surprised just how often these pesky little things can sneak into your manuscript.
Okay, you’ve convinced me. So where do I find good betas and CPs?
That’s next week’s Friday 5 post! Stay tuned!