My beta readers make me cut stuff. That’s why I love them.

editing my little heart out....

editing my little heart out….

Yesterday, I wrote about the emotional process I go through making edits based on the comments I get from beta readers. As I go through and edit “The King’s Sons,” I’m realizing that my editing will consist of a lot of cuts. And that’s GOOD.

First of all, cutting is easy logistically, even if it isn’t psychologically. (I hope that makes sense. It’s a simple fix to just get rid of a sentence or two or three in the middle of a paragraph that aren’t needed. Takes seconds.) And generally, cutting is good editing. Most editing should consist of cutting. I’m so grateful that my beta readers aren’t afraid to tell me, “This chapter moved too slow.” “There’s too much of this character here.” “Maybe some of this info could be moved elsewhere.”

Because they’re always right. It amazes me, actually, that I don’t see myself, beforehand, how bogged down/drawn out this or that scene is, because after I get feedback saying “This is too slow” I find whole paragraphs sometimes describing emotional reactions that aren’t necessary. Dialogue makes clear what the character is feeling. I don’t need to tell the reader that obvious info. And this is every single time. Over multiple books.

That’s why feedback from other people is so necessary. They see things the author just can’t. They notice things that the author is blind to. And when the author can be humble enough to recognize the value of such constructive comments, there’s SO MUCH potential to improve a novel that’s already “okay” or “pretty good.” Honest, constructive, and respectful feedback is a goldmine. I really try to take advantage of it. I can’t say my pride doesn’t sometimes interfere, but it’s pretty rare that I don’t make at least a minor edit based on a comment a beta reader gives me.

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13 responses to “My beta readers make me cut stuff. That’s why I love them.

  1. Hm I need to find a good beta reader! It is easy to get drawn in and add too much. Guess it always comes back to show don’t tell!

  2. A good beta reader is so hard to find. Somehow, a lot of people seem nervous about telling you that this part just isn’t that good or that part doesn’t make any sense. When you can find a good one, it’s like magic.

  3. It is amazing what an author misses. Beta Readers make things concise and that’s always a good thing.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how I can edit and edit and still not see the forest for the trees. But then my beta readers point out what isn’t working and it’s as crystal clear… Like you, I am ever grateful for mine!

  5. Pingback: Thoughts after cutting out two entire scenes from my WIP | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

  6. Pingback: Editing Creative Writing: Thoughts after cutting out two entire scenes from my WIP | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

  7. “And when the author can be humble enough to recognize the value of such constructive comments, there’s SO MUCH potential.”

    Cut out the rest of that sentence…

    I love to do beta reading, but I tend to pull out everything I see. I’ve chased off at least one or two critiquing partners. I always try to add in good notes. I always question the work/scenes, never the author.

    Although I know there is a sense of pride and attachment to a novel, I wish I could find a beta reader that wasn’t afraid to hurt my feelings.

    Moderate authors write it, good authors edit it, and great authors listen to advice.

    Great post, I’m having a feeling your books might end up on my “To Read” list.

    • Writing is always very personal, but it’s definitely necessary, as you say, to separate the person behind the work from the work itself. It’s a shame not everyone can do that. I’m sorry to hear your honest and respectful approach was too much for some authors who just weren’t ready for a true critique…. that’s what betas are all about, after all.

      I’m really glad you stopped by! Appreciate your thoughts.

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