I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of using beta readers and having critique partners for our work. They are an important part of our writing process and have helped us so much in our writing journey thus far. Most of what I have shared on this blog has been about how valuable their feedback and advice have been to make us better writers and improve our books.
I’ll take this space to thank my friends in the Secret Novel Writing Club for already critiquing the first fourteen chapters of our Ancient Greece book! They’ve been subjected to our first draft and have given so much helpful and constructive feedback and advice that I apply in every new chapter I write. One particular piece of feedback I was given early on (around chapter two) was that some of the dialogue was flat. After receiving that piece of advice, I have always made an extra effort to make sure my dialogue is engaging. So, thank you!
You might wonder where this post is going—I’ve talked about beta readers and feedback before. But, I promise, this post has a point.
Yesterday, we recorded another wonderful Author Spotlight Interview (no spoilers at who the guest was!), and the topic of beta readers came up again. But this time, from another angle—how being someone else’s beta reader can be just as beneficial to your writing.
This was an angle I hadn’t considered before, and this brief comment got me thinking about everything I’ve learned critiquing other people’s work over the past couple of years. Looking back over the months of beta reading, I realized I’ve learned a lot. From getting a better grasp of grammar to expanding my vocabulary and opening my eyes to different genres, beta reading and critiquing have really expanded my writing horizons.
But the thing that jumps out to me most is how much more writing insight I have developed. By this, I mean identifying and diagnosing why a particular sentence or paragraph feels off. Is it because the protagonist is acting out of character? Is it because the tone is wrong? Perhaps the dialogue isn’t realistic enough. Or maybe the emotion is flat. Finding these issues in other people’s writing and talking about ways to remedy it has been immensely helpful when looking back at my own work.
Have you beta read for any people in the past? How do find beta reading has helped your writing? Let me know in the comments below.