Beta Readers

Apologies for my silence, to those of you who are kind enough to follow my novel writing exploits. As well as drying out my soggy soul in sunny Italy for a few days, I have spent weeks immersed in major editing of my WIP Pictures of Love.

It seems the nearer I get to pressing save on my final draft, before sending it to my lovely beta readers, the more I feel compelled to rewrite the whole bloomin’ thing from the first page.

I understand the need for my novel to be the best it can be before going out into the world at large. But how polished does it need to be for beta readers? I mean, what if I spend hours filling in all the extra bits of back-story for a secondary character only to be told she adds nothing to the plot?

Or – my biggest fear, certainly in my academic days – what if I remove something, only to have someone suggest it’s exactly the thing that is missing for them? Do I take out the long words – as has been suggested – when I know most of my readers will understand and expect them? Most importantly, do I take out the sex?

I have one sex scene, right at the beginning, to show my main character’s relationship is based only on lust. There is no more sex after that, well none shown explicitly. What if I set the expectation that it’s an erotic novel when it’s nothing of the sort?


I knew writing novels was going to be hard but, like parenting, it’s hard in all different places to the ones I expected.

2 thoughts on “Beta Readers

  1. I think send it out to beta readers when you are ready for to hear feedback. Personally I would send them a ‘clean’ copy so spelling mistakes don’t take them out of the story and they can tell me important things like where things got confusing, missing conflicts, gaps of logic, inconsistencies etc (because stuff like that makes sense in my head and I assume it’s already on the page and OBVIOUS!).It’s your story so don’t change things unless it’s to the benefit of your story’s soul if that makes any sense – the reason you decided to slave over that whole thing in the process 🙂

    • Thanks, that’s pretty much what I thought, but it’s nice to have confirmation. My mother will definitely find any spelling mistakes I have missed (and it amazes me how many are still in there, after five or six readings. When I see typos in published novels they seem to jump out the page.) I know exactly what you mean about it existing in my head and therefore being obvious. I can see all the action like a movie, so when I read it, I already know what the room looks like and where everyone is standing. Then someone reads a bit and says ‘how did they get from there to there?’ and to me it’s obvious!! 🙂

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