Getting My Beta On: The First Edit of My Novel

I recently sent my completed novel draft to three brilliant friends who agreed to be my beta-readers — two of whom are writers and one of whom is an avid reader.

I just got on their feedback, and they said, Anita, this is perfect, I’ve never been so moved, it’s better than Cats.

Just kidding.

What they did do was much better than that:

  • They affirmed that the story was worth telling and that my voice kept them reading. Woot!
  • They pinpointed problem areas. Like good therapists, they articulated shortcomings I kind of knew but didn’t want to admit. There were a couple of egregious oversights that multiple readers pointed out, and many smaller points from individual readers that gave me clear direction for my edit.
  • They opened up new lines of inquiry, making links between characters and developments that I didn’t even recognize.

Getting that kind of feedback is what writers need to keep going. I’m on the right path, so I might as well run it. I now have more trail markers to know which direction I’m running. And best of all, I don’t feel like I’m running it alone.