Beta Reader Group discussion

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Writing Advice & Discussion > Conflicting Opinions

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message 1: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments How do you all handle instances when your readers are divided?
Here's my current problem:

A little more than %50 of my readers love the first chapter. The other half would like more backstory. And it seems like every reader that tells me their opinion a different reader contradicts it. And the problem is whoever likes the first chapter LOVES it and doesn't want it to change.

Opinions anyone?


message 2: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 110 comments Ultimately beta readers are there for guidance for you to test the market, but you have to use your own mind as to how you want your novel to be - otherwise you will be pushed and pulled all over the place.

i would suggest reading other books in the same genre as you are writing in and see how they set theirs out.


message 3: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Sherry wrote: "Ultimately beta readers are there for guidance for you to test the market, but you have to use your own mind as to how you want your novel to be - otherwise you will be pushed and pulled all over t..."

Very true. Thanks for the opinion Sherry.


message 4: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 4 comments Danielle wrote: "How do you all handle instances when your readers are divided?
Here's my current problem:

A little more than %50 of my readers love the first chapter. The other half would like more backstory. An..."


It sounds like you've got some solid support for the way your novel is starting. I would take the comments about needing more backstory to mean that it needs to be included -- but not necessarily in the first chapter. I've read a lot of books where I had questions about background, and as long as it shows up, it's satisfying. Putting everything out there up front isn't always a good idea. I think it helps to keep the reader guessing.


message 5: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Anne wrote: "Danielle wrote: "How do you all handle instances when your readers are divided?
Here's my current problem:

A little more than %50 of my readers love the first chapter. The other half would like m..."


Thank you for the opinion, Anne. To be honest with you, no one is complaining about not having enough backstory but about it being too abrupt. It's a fantasy and her world is tipped upside down in the first chapter sending her out on this adventure. And those readers that wanted more backstory would like it to start the day before. Your comment really has me thinking about the genre the beta readers usually read. The ones that read fantasy majorly like it while others that don't majorly read it are the ones that wanted it to slow down.


message 6: by Bryant (new)

Bryant Reil | 27 comments You could do a Prologue, I guess. Then the information's there for readers who want it, and those who don't aren't obligated to read it.

Ultimately, of course, it's about how YOU want it to sound!


message 7: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Bryant wrote: "You could do a Prologue, I guess. Then the information's there for readers who want it, and those who don't aren't obligated to read it.

Ultimately, of course, it's about how YOU want it to sound!"


True, Bryant. I've read many articles that say prologs are the lazy way to write a story. So I guess I was hesitant to go that way. Ultimately, I wanted to leave it the way it is. But when I hear the conflict, I guess it's hard to be certain.


message 8: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Danielle wrote: "Your comment really has me thinking about the genre the beta readers usually read. The ones that read fantasy majorly like it while others that don't majorly read it are the ones that wanted it to slow down. "

well, then, you answered your own question. (sometimes, you just need a sounding board.)

otoh, it's difficult to make an informed opinion on only one chapter, but in general, i'd err on less context rather than more.


message 9: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Alex G wrote: "Danielle wrote: "Your comment really has me thinking about the genre the beta readers usually read. The ones that read fantasy majorly like it while others that don't majorly read it are the ones t..."

You're right Alex Lol. Thanks for the opinion! Appreciate it.


message 10: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Cole (rosemarycole) As a new author, I've been doing a lot of reading online as to what agents and editors like. The majority of opinion seems to be not to start with backstory, description, a dream, or even a prologue. They all seem to want us authors to start right in on the story. That seems to be what your fantasy readers like too, so I'd say go with it :)


message 11: by HitC (new)

HitC (hitcgirl) | 136 comments Yes, Rosemary is right. Backstory, description, prologues don't necessarily grab attention the way diving into action does.

Your readers that want it to be a little slower may be struggling to connect with your protagonist. Sometimes even if you have amazing conflict from the start, readers don't care as much because they're not connected to your hero. You have to bond readers to the protagonist right away, and there are a few ways you can do that.

If you want to email me the first chapter I can take a look and try to help you out. My email is tiffany@owlediting.com.

By the way I'm just about to start a sample edit for a woman named Danielle. Is that you? I have a feeling it is :) If so, I already have your first chapter!


message 12: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Thanks for the opinion Tiffany! And yes it is me :)


message 13: by Michele (last edited Jun 19, 2016 08:22AM) (new)

Michele | 24 comments Danielle wrote: "Ultimately, I wanted to leave it the way it is."

That. That is what you need to listen to. Your betas aren't exactly complaining, and in your heart you want to leave the part alone. They want more backstory because they like what they're reading, so I'd simply weave the extra info into the rest of the manuscript.


message 14: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Michele wrote: "Danielle wrote: "Ultimately, I wanted to leave it the way it is."

That. That is what you need to listen to. Your betas aren't exactly complaining, and in your heart you want to leave that part alo..."


That could very much be the case. Thanks Michele.


message 15: by Adrian (new)

Adrian Hall | 34 comments While you should listen to your audience, they are your audience after all, but if you try and satisfy everyone with your work, you'll wind up disappointing everyone. Some just won't like it.

When it comes to plot structure, a common structure is for the story to start in the middle or even at the end, and then going back to the beginning to show how you reached that point. However, I wouldn't suggest doing this from book, to book, to book. It becomes overly predictable that way.


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