“Mercy” and Beta-Readers

I’ve been dabbling with AI-generated images. This is one I quite like.

I wrote a novel. How many people can say that? I need to remember that accomplishment as I travel into the next part of my journey, because many people say this next part is even harder. (Although, honestly, people say that of every part.)

Currently, I am working through the revisions suggested by my beta-readers. I sent “Mercy” to ten people: folks in my writing group, one person in my book club, one knowledge-expert in two of my speciality subjects, a couple local savvy readers. And my family. Few of them knew what it meant to be a beta-reader before I plopped 450 pages into their hands, and I found myself ill-equipped to guide them. So, like everything else along this journey, I figured it out.

My first batch of feedback covered the spectrum, from “I love it, especially the ending” to “I hate, hate, HATE it”. Neither offering was helpful. I needed my beta readers to be more specific. What exactly did they love about the ending? What exactly did they hate, hate, HATE? Maybe specificity is essential to all writers at every skill level, but—as a newby who lacks confidence in almost everything about my craft—I craved details. So, I googled beta-reader questions (here’s a helpful list I found: https://thejohnfox.com/2022/06/essential-questions-to-ask-your-beta-readers/), set up interviews with those who were willing, recorded those discussions, listened and re-listened to their insights as I tried to understand, and set down to revisions. (I thank every one of them. Already, “Mercy” is improved by their critiques.)

Honestly, I’d hoped I was closer to the finish line with this project. It’s been a long slog. My mother has a form of dementia (who knew there are over 100 different types?) and was recently institutionalized. Her decline is noticeable, day by day. She’d watched me struggle with this writing quest, showing her curiosity and her pride through her repeated questions. I am still hoping to put my finished book in her hands while she can recognize it. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top