It got me thinking about what I like about them vs. past experiences. Now, I don't want to belittle anyone who has swapped reads with me beforehand. Not at all. All of you others have been great. But some of the things that have stood out to me are these:
- They always keep me updated as to where they are in my MS.
- They point out the good along with the nagative.
- They aren't affraid to speak their mind if something doesn't work.
I love it when people can be completely honest with me. The harsher the better, I say. Now, perhaps I have grown a tough skin through the last few years or hearing people's oppinions, but there is no growth without a little (or a lot of) pain. The worste thing you can do for someone when reading their work is to tell them the good, wash over the rest while pretending the bad parts don't exsist and blindside the person to their flaws.
I want to know what stinks. I want to know when something doesn't work, or isn't believable. That's the only way I can grow as a writer, learn from my mistakes. I love that one of my betas told me something wasn't right and then explained why.
Having as many people read your MS as you can helps in so many ways. Everyone picks out different things that I never noticed before. Some things used to be perfect and then during last rounds of revisions it somehow got cut out on accident. So, in that way alone, having someone look at your work after each round you see things that need to be sharpened.
I love Nathan Bransford's way (or old way...sob) of having people critique each other, using the sandwhich affect:
- Compliment (possitive comments)
- Constructive Criticism
- Compliment, compliment and compliment some more.
It was always great to read his critiques on someones work. People are more apt to listen when we point out the good, build them up with encouragment, but also be completly honest with the not-so-great parts.
And just a hint for some of you out there. Don't NOT finish someone else's MS because they gave you a harsh crit. That's all I'll say about that =). It's sad when someone gives you all sorts of help and then, because maybe you didn't agree with it, or it was too hard to hear, you simply didn't do them the justice of finishing their work.
Now, any stories or other hints anyone want to share on the subject?