When I talked about the benefits of not writing alone, I mentioned having built-in alpha readers.
Alpha readers are awesome
I discovered the term after reading Kevin Hearne’s post on revision. He says:
I have an alpha reader who reads each chapter as I produce it, giving me immediate feedback as I go, so composing the first draft is somewhat of a recursive process; I’m already tweaking and adjusting things in response to his feedback before I complete the first draft. Some of his comments I set aside for a later, second-draft treatment, but I take care of most of them as I go, making immediate changes in the chapters before I continue.
Now, Hearne’s process isn’t one that’ll work for everyone, but here’s what’s cool: immediate feedback.
While I was writing Elusive Memories, I sent new chunks of the story to my accountability partner/alpha reader. Though most of her feedback usually involves cheering me on, at one point, she stopped me and told me that my main character had forgotten something that left a plot thread dangling.
She saved me additional work in the editing process because I was able to fix that problem before moving on.
An alpha reader is like a path of least revision (see what I did there?)
Alpha readers can also be your sounding board if you hit a particularly tough block. And they’ll be able to offer quality feedback because they’re already acquainted with your story. Skip the awkward explanation of what your story is about and why you’re having issues.
The other benefit of having an alpha reader is forcing yourself to share your writing.
There’s a lot of insecurity and doubt involved in sharing your writing. It’s insanely easy to give in to that insecurity and never share. Because if no one ever reads your work, you never have to take the chance that your insecurities might be right.
But you’ll also never know if they’re wrong.
Stop listening to your insecurities—they’ll never be honest
Having an alpha reader gets you comfortable with sharing early on in the process. The longer you wait, the harder sharing will get. And the harder it gets, the less likely you’ll ever share your writing. Which is a shame, really.
Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that your doubts are big, fat liars and to keep writing. (Your doubts are big fat liars. Keep writing.)
Have you used alpha readers?