I love my critique partners. I love my beta readers. I would be nowhere without them.
One beta reader in particular, I can always count on for honesty, clarity and humor. She has an amazing eye for how everything fits (or should fit) into the big picture.
But, everyone can have a bad day (or week, or however long it takes to read a friend’s manuscript).
In the past, I appreciated her humorous way of pointing out character or plot inconsistencies. Her comments made me laugh and took a little of the sting out of the criticism.
The last time she read a manuscript for me, however, was different. The humor had more of an edge and made the criticism sting more. I couldn’t get through her comments. They made me so mad that I had to close the document by page 40.
I know how great a reader she can be, though, so I didn’t want to give up on her critique. But it took me weeks to get through her comments, and also the help of another beta reader who read the critique and was able to see past the wrapping to the golden ticket hidden with the unusually bitter chocolate bar.
The bottom line is, my friend had amazing insights into my manuscript. My story will be better for her having read it. And yes, I would ask her to beta-read for me in the future.
So, my friends, remember that there is a breathing, feeling, insecure person on the other end of the manuscript you’re critiquing. I’m not saying you have to sugar coat anything. I’m not saying you shouldn’t point out the problems. But give a little thought as to how your comments might be received.
And, my friends, when you’re reading someone’s feedback, remember he or she is also a breathing, feeling, possibly insecure person with who-knows-what issues of his or her own to deal with that could be coloring his or her comments. Do your best to ignore what hurts and get to what helps.
In the comments, please share any other advice you have for dealing with difficult critiques.