Last night, I sent the Paradisa Beta Round 2 draft to most of my betas. The others will be later today, when I snag their email addresses. I spent most of yesterday doing my final typo fixes, although there are probably plenty of typos I missed. I was at the point where I needed to get it out the door.
I thought I would be very nervous hitting “send” and shipping it off to some web friends, acquaintances, and outright strangers. In the first Beta Round, I was about ready to puke sending it to my parents and my best friends! But honestly, I was not nervous this time. Excited, maybe a little hesitant, but ultimately I realize that this process is a beneficial one. And even when I got negative feedback last time, I was never hurt or offended by it. I almost always agreed with it, because I did recognize the problems in my book. I perhaps needed these problems confirmed by other people, or I welcomed their suggestions on how to make them better.
Funny enough, I find the story elements somewhat solid in this draft, except for some gripes about exposition/world-building and the antagonist arc. I think there are a lot of things I still need to clarify. But the thing I’m most nervous about is exposing people to my writing style. I go some days thinking “hey, I’m not that bad.” And other days thinking “this is the most clunky, dismal, unpublishable thing I’ve ever written.” I guess that’s subjective anyway.
On my own, I don’t mind the way I write. But it’s hard to stay confident when I see everyone side-eye my style, declaring it “wrong”, from the present tense to the over-the-shoulder POV (rather than the deep stream of consciousness soap opera style that is apparently en vogue. You know, where everything sounds like a hypothetical question at the end of an Adam West Batman episode, or a line from an overacted telenova. You can’t just say “she gasped as the terror rose.” You have to say “her heart exploded in her chest! Who were these men? What did they want? Why did they torture her this waaaaaaay!”)
I’m not trying to trick the readers into thinking they aren’t reading a book. I want readers who like to nestle in with a book and enjoy having a story told to them. Who want to make new friends out of the characters instead of experiencing a cheap self-insert fantasy. I want to establish trust between the reader and I so much that they don’t even doubt the novel. Like, “Hey you. Yeah, you. I got this. Everything has a reason. It’s all gonna come together. You just be patient, now.”
Who knows if I’ll achieve that? I have 11 betas and a broken clock is right twice a day. Odds are, someone will really like it. And odds are, someone will really hate it. Most will probably fall on a bell curve of 2-4 star ratings. That’s just life. The important thing is figuring out what this group comes to a consensus on, because those are the areas where my story probably needs work. Or maybe they’ll come to a consensus on something good, and that will be an element I’ll know to leave alone. As stressful as the beta process is, I could not be a successful writer without it.