Beta readers (betas) and critique partners (CPs) are essential to the writing process. They allow you to see your work differently and can help you figure out what is and isn’t working in your story.
But do you always need to take their advice?
This is a tricky question.
If you have a good betas and CPs, they will give you their honest opinions. They will also tell you to take what works for you and leave behind what doesn’t. I’m never offended if I critique something and the writer decides not to use my thoughts.
The important thing is that you considered the advice. I weigh everything my betas or CPs tell me. Sometimes the advice resonates immediately; sometimes I stomp my feet and cross my arms, but in the end, know the advice was right; other times suggestions don’t work for me.
Everyone reacts to things differently.
I love hearing the different ways people react to or view my stories as long as the feedback is given in a genuine and helpful way. I had a beta tell me she quit reading one of my manuscripts because she didn’t like what was happening to the main character. She did end up finishing the manuscript. I was fascinated and asked her several questions about her reaction.
I had two great CPs for the urban fantasy I’m currently querying. It was interesting to see their thoughts because sometimes they gave opposite advice. For example, one encouraged fewer details in spots, while the other wanted more. I considered everything they said and in the end, trusted my gut, and did what I thought was best for the story based on their advice.
It can be easy to dismiss all comments, but then you’re missing out on ways to improve your work.
It can also be easy to take everyone’s advice and try to work it into your story. If you do that, you’ll be editing forever and end up with a story that’s not true to your vision.
You know your story. Learn to trust your instincts about what can improve it and what isn’t a good fit.