This is both a difficult and easy stage. The difficulty is in finding ‘rough beta readers’, people who won’t get caught up in format and grammar . . . and spelling. They have to be able to see beyond the rough stuff. Pick up on storyline/s that you didn’t see while you were writing. Brutally honest people who will say what they think.
Easy because it give me a chance to recharge and get away from the current writing project. A story vacation, so when it comes back to me in a month, I am looking at it with fresh eyes and some guidance from readers about the story, both the good and bad.
What I am looking for here in this stage is opinions. Two kinds of opinions. The ones make me beam with pride as well as the stinkers that rip at my writer’s heart like pulling a band aid off a really hairy piece of skin. They both count and they both matter, to a point.
The accolades tell me what is working. Tricky part is when what is working wasn’t what was my favorite part writing, or where/when/who I had it in my mind was going to be the best parts. Especially when it is a universal opinion, that means I really have to wait till it all comes in, get away from it and do something else.
Comments can also let you know what isn’t working. If there is something missing these comments may be the clues to help you find and create whatever element of the story needs work. It can also take you in an entirely different direction.
Rough Beta Readers have to be honest, but not hateful. Careful, fair warning here – there may be people that aren’t appreciative of your work. Some maybe secretly green, envy can make any constructive comment turn mean. The bad things is they may not even realize it themselves.
During this stage, I will go back and start working on another conception of new story. Doodle writing. Brainstorming ideas. All that stuff that got me excited about writing in the first place.