I had not anticipated the phenomenally detailed report I received from my beta reader. I've done plenty of critiques, and I usually provide pretty much that level of detail and consideration. I was not expecting it from a beta reader. I have been entirely spoiled!
Dragon's Voice also found itself two new beta readers, but I'll clean up some of the nitty gritty before passing it on, lest the little things get in the way of the new readers. But it did show me how much variation there is in writing. The editor did say they edit to Chicago style. Now, I can see where the expectations of the reader may be different depending on their usual reading habits and their upbringing.
I am Canadian. I have slowly learned how to write in American English, a trick I can perform on command, but I default to my Canadianisms. However, I also spent four years in the United Kingdom (which is where many of my pictures are from, by the way). I became familiar with British English. British English influenced everything I wrote while I was there. You'll notice I don't use "pants" in my writing. I can't. It means underwear. Mis-reading that word completely changes the meaning an otherwise innocent sentence!
Thankfully, I have enough confidence to take the good from the beta reader and leave the rest. Sometimes, I know I'm right about where a comma goes. Sometimes, I'm willing to try to replace an M dash to see if it would read easier.
It's the big points that continue to intimidate me, but I'm waiting for more information before acting on them. I don't want to have a manuscript so different after the first read that I can't reference the points of the next beta reader. I know many of the points have weight and will likely be integrated shortly, but I plan to do them in one haul.
But, like I said, wow. I am flabbergasted by the effort and time the reader invested in reading my work. And I am grateful beyond measure.
Progress is scary.
I was shocked, but pleasantly so, when I got two offers on Beta-Readers for Dragon's Voice from the Victoria Creative Writing Group (which I have been a member of since 2011 and help manage too!). One was so fast, she read it in 48 hours (or less!) and we're meeting for coffee next week!
Amazing! But terrifying too! It's been a lot of years since I first started reaching out to writing circles and critique groups, and I've done a fair number of exchanges with other budding authors too. I'm not scared of just having my work out there anymore. I know it can hurt, but that I'll be able to pick the parts that fit my vision and gently put aside the parts that don't convey what I want. My writing experience has given me that much. I'm a big fish in my tiny pond over here; I can take it!
But the whole point of this adventure is to leave the pond.
I'm excited, and nervous, to hear what the Beta-reader has to say. Feedback is so important and can be so helpful. But it can come with that confidence-destroying pain of knowing your work is not as awesome as you'd like. Since I already feel like my work is good, but not stellar, that's a hard blow.
But I need to leave the pond.
So we're meeting for coffee . Then another edit down the road and it'll be time for the next step.
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.