One of the things I’ve been hashing out with a of the members of my critique group is the different kinds of feedback, and the value of each.
What sparked this discussion is the fact that both of us spend a lot of time editing parts of our wips that will end up being cut, or re-written entirely.
It occured to me one of the ways to reduce this time was to have an alpha reader (someone who reads your manuscript as it is after a first draft). It was pointed out to me that not many people have the time (or the inclination, if we’re being honest) to alpha read.
I’m also not certain if having a manuscript alpha read is the best idea. It seems to me that this type of feedback can lead the manuscript in another direction: one belonging to someone other than the original author. But, then again, maybe not. Yet, more importantly to have someone alpha read for me, would be giving away precious time. Time that I would spend with my characters and in my world, getting to know them even better. I don’t think it would be worth the trade off.
I’ve had partials read, and for me personally those help point out weaknesses that I’m too close to see. Good feedback will ask me questions that enable me to dig deeper into my world. And I’ve been lucky – I have gotten excellent feedback.
Betas are crucial for me. Without them my second to last draft would be missing some of that shine. They help point out the lags, and any relationship misconceptions or plot strains. This type of feedback is invaluable, and if I had to pick only one type of feedback to receive it would be this one.
I’m convinced (most of the time) that all this editing – much of it what I perceive as superfluous – is absolutely necessary for me to get my ms to its end stage. There’s just no milky chocolate path, or yellow brick road, that enables me to bypass it. And if I consider it, I’m not sure I’d want to bypass it, after all part of what I love about writing is being immersed in my work. It’s just nice to find the tools that help along the way.
What about you, have you given or received partial, alpha, or beta feedback? And what have you gotten from the different types of feedback?