Feedback is a strange thing to want. On the one hand, you want praise for your writerly genius and assurances that you’ll be dominating the NYT Bestseller List in no time. On the other hand, you know your manuscript isn’t bestseller-caliber just yet and that the only way to get it there is to have it torn to shreds by a keen and ruthless eye.
Enter the beta reader, aka the critique partner. The loving friend who reads and/or writes a ton, who knows a good story when they see it, and who’s willing to be really mean.
In order to get the most out of the feedback, it’s helpful to send along a list of questions—ideally, tough ones that will elicit brutally honest answers. These questions cut right to the heart of the matter and help to answer the most critical question: Is this story good?
And, fair warning, the answer might be, “No, not yet.” If someone put down the manuscript ten times, it’s probably because it was boring them. If somebody made a bunch of accurate predictions, then, well, your story is predictable.
Which, you know, hurts. It hurts a whole h*ckin’ lot. But isn’t it better to know that your story is boring and predictable, so that you can make it un-boring and unpredictable before sending your baby off into the world?
Criticism hurts, but it makes you a better writer and a better storyteller.
You can’t fix problems that you aren’t aware of. Steel your nerve and send these questions to your beta readers!
What’s your favorite tough question to ask your beta readers?