There’s nothing more devastating than having a piece of work that you were terribly proud of taken apart and positively criticized for 5000 words straight. It’s needed of course, because it makes you a good writer as opposed to a passable one.
About 18 months ago, I realized that my fan fiction work was drawing more readers than I had originally anticipated. The number of readers was a clear shock and quite suddenly it dawned on me that my work was read and that people saw something in my work that was worth coming back for, chapter after chapter. With that discovery, came the realization that I would have to keep an eye on the quality of work that I put out there. Reading through it once or twice wasn’t going to cut it, because inevitably mistakes are missed and sentence which you think might make perfect sense, falls one step short of terrible.
So I decided to ’employ’ a volunteer Beta Reader. I had a rocky start, but eventually settled on a guy which I will refer to as Tenchii Knight. TK literally swooped in and saved the day with my writing. He had a good eye for mistakes, he bothered to explain to me why he chanced certain things, he taught me about Americanisms, sentence structure and he helped to tone down what was a terribly elaborate writing style. TK fixed my writing.
And, he did it with honestly.
In him, I realized the value of constructive criticism, and how sharing your work with someone whom you trust to be honest, can improve your writing. And, he showed me that although writing is a lonely profession, you don’t necessarily have to struggle on your own. He became the person whom I could go to with a terrible sentence and say: Fix it.
He made me better and that is ultimately the goal of writing, to strive to better heights, to improve on your own style and to produce something which you can be proud of. It’s not nice sometimes, especially when I receive a piece of work littered with red comments and fixed spelling errors, but it’s needed. It’s like the sting of an antiseptic on a wound which allows it to heal.
Editing sucks, but a Beta Reader can make it better and flow smoother.
My advice to you is thus.
- Find a Beta Reader, preferably someone who respects your work (and yourself) enough to critizise you constructively.
- Edit. Go through your work if you decide to make it public in the form of fan fiction or web fiction. In an ideal world, even blog posts should be edited by a third party but honestly, that will take half of the fun out of it.
- Take pride in your work. It will inspire you to become better.
- Listen to what people say. Often, you might not agree with them, but they have valid points if they are not senseless flamers (definition of a flamer: someone who gives abusive criticisms).
- If it all gets too much, sit back, take a break and then come back to your work. You’ll see it in a whole new light.
This post is dedicated to my Beta Reader of 18 months, Tenchii Knight. Thank you for helping me my friend, it’s always appreciated.
Also, to Jenn who comments here, who has more recently started helping me with my stories. 🙂 Credit must be given, where credit is due.