A Taste of Beta Feedback (Why Opinions Matter & Why You Will Never Please Everyone)

So I finished my latest edit of “The Genesis” about two hours ago. These are exciting times, people. While I haven’t had all my feedback yet, the results I did have from the quicker betas as well as the subsequent input from The Muse has yielded a very decent second draft already.

To celebrate, I read through some of the comments I had from my beta readers so far with regards to this first major edit, after which I felt like sharing.

While I asked for feedback on everything in this draft (characters, settings, general story, etc); the most interesting for me was discovering what people thought about the people I’d invented.

Some opinions were shared (bear in mind none of the betas know each other – well, two do, technically, but I’m fairly sure they didn’t discuss it). For example, the general consensus of one character was about the same, like so:

One Beta said, “Wonderful character.”

And one said, “[This character] makes the scenes with [this other character] more interesting […]. She interacts well with all the other characters.”

And another said, “I felt safe whenever I read the book and [this character] was in the scene.”

And another said, “She was soooo amazing. […] you could never spend enough time with her.”

And another in a less positive light, like so:

One said, “You don’t see very much of [this character] […] kinda bland […]”

Another said, “At first couldn’t remember [who] that was […] Maybe that tells you something about being a forgettable character.”

And another said, “Not really sure of the point of [this character].”

While others seemed to split opinions…

One said, “[He] is a great character. Lot of mystery about him[…]”

But one said, “I got fed up every time he appeared […] I just didn’t like him.”

And one said, “BAMF! (Bad ass mother fucker). […] he’s so awesome.”

But another said (my personal favourite of all the feedback I got): “He’s a dick. He’s a dick. He’s a dick. He’s a massive, MASSIVE dick.”

And one character I obviously messed up entirely, because people judged him in complete polar opposites:

While one said, “[…]he seemed too evil […].”

Another said, “I like [this character]! He IS the Angel from Buffy […] Protective yet strong and able.”

And another seemed to realise the mish mashed character, saying: “I think I misinterpreted how you wanted [this character] to come across.  He reminded me of all those hunchbacked characters who assist the mad doctors in the old black and white monster films and Golum from Lord of the Rings.”

The overall feedback was good. Some had read the older versions, while others came into it brand new. There were some correlations and differences between those who had and those who hadn’t read the earlier one, mostly good stuff, but some parts I needed to improve on from the old version pulled through into the new, as well, mainly things that I’d kind of bypassed, forgetting that people won’t have read anything else now!

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that people will have varying opinions of your work, regardless of how you work it. Some characters will please everyone, while others will divide opinions. What you hope to achieve, as a writer, is to pave the way well enough so that the majority of your readers will understand the story you’re trying to tell.

The other point I’m trying to make is that feedback is important.

You cannot be the alpha and the omega of your story’s progression and hope for it to please the masses.

Now I’m going to go have a little lie down. And maybe cry a bit.