The Value of Test Readers

One thing I cannot stress enough for writers is to have a reliable group of test readers who will tell you the unvarnished truth. And I don’t mean just one or two. Have as many as you can. (Of course, quality over quantity… make sure they’re good.)

Recently, I had one such reader go over my latest book. At least a dozen people had read the work or parts of it. So imagine my surprise when she mentioned something about the third chapter that no one else had. She made a comment about the actions of a pair of minor characters and I thought to myself, “Wow? How did she get that out of it? That’s not what I meant at all!” And since no one else had ever mentioned it, I was inclined to think she’d simply not read it carefully enough.

Wait, what?

But in reading over those scenes later, I could see how she came to that conclusion. And since it was most certainly not what I wanted any reader to think, I had to make some changes… in the process of which, I came to realize I’d overlooked something significant that needed to be addressed… something that may have been part of what caused this reader to come to the conclusions she did.

The irony here is that this chapter was one of my favorites in the entire book, one that I regarded as being as solid as could be. The reason, though, is that I knew exactly what I meant. But no one else does, of course.

Wait, what?

So have your cadre of readers. And take what they say seriously. They’re not always right. But then, neither are you.

Posted by vmwales in Editing, Writing Process, 0 comments