Let me tell you, beta readers are priceless. Not as priceless as when you first smell grandma’s silent but deadly fury in a cramped public place, but really close. It is hard to judge your own stuff and using beta readers to gauge your work is a great feedback source. So big ups to my beta readers and their help on the upcoming Wall-O-Words I will be sending to Writers of the Future. Let me openly say thanks and you all rock. That being said….
Nothing is more annoying then when I give a beta reader a piece and receive little to zero feedback. I know it would be a little much to ask them to take a log of emotions and thoughts as they read or how often they broke reading to do the annoying things one must do like eat or take the browns to the Superbowl, but I would at least like to know something more than “It was good” or “It sucked ass.” I want to know how they felt about it, what they liked or didn’t, what made sense and what didn’t, if there were any issues, etc. If something was awesome, what about it was awesome? If something sucked, what about it sucked and why?
Perhaps I’m reading a bit much into that though. I reckon some people are just wanting to be blindly led by the hand down the rabbit hole, so they don’t take the time to dissect the story like I do. That just might be one of those itchy burning side effects of being a writer because I do that to every story.
Writers need feedback, we thrive on it. If you want to help, avoid generalizations and be specific. As a writer though, you better have some thick skin. If you spend thirty pages describing a fleshlight with a mustache, be ready to get rebuked. If you are writing science fiction and pull some science out of your ass, make it believable. Arguing that you can ‘wish’ yourself places doesn’t really work. That is just a notch above saying that rubbing bengay on your nipples and belly flopping down a slip-n-slide is a plausible means of FTL.
For writers who don’t have a thick skin, find something else to do. Being outraged at someone’s opinion of your work is part of the game, you can’t please everybody. Take it in account or in stride, but don’t nerdrage. Behaving like an asshat will only hurt you. Don’t believe me? Check out this and take a solid step in learning what not to do, it starts at the comments.
Writing, like anything, is a process that is rewarded with practice. If you want to get better, then keep writing and stay open minded.