My Alpha Reader: “This is just confusing.”

There are reasons why I’m not an alpha reader. Watching my husband stumble through the second part of my manuscript with all my stream of consciousness errors and little notes. Or the fact that some of the scenes stop abruptly and sentences go in circles at points.

The first half of the novella had an edit and some rewriting, it was gravy.

Seeing his perspective of reading my very ROUGH second half made me feel for him. And embarrassed the hell out of me — but — I needed help. I started suffering from the moment midway through my book. That moment that I thought, “Is this even good? Is it even engaging?”

My insecurities grew as I was at work today, knowing that he was reading it. I couldn’t focus. Thinking of all the sloppy broad strokes I was exposing him to in my manuscript. I thought of every single bad line, highlight, notes, thoughts, bad scene endings and half-cocked emotions of my characters.

Needless to say, my roughs are sloppy. When I write a story, I jump scenes a lot and add notes to scenes that need developing for this and that. Little notes about research or description missing.

It was difficult to hear the critique. I mention this because I needed it. The biggest take away is that (a) it’s engaging and (b) it needs fleshing out.

I asked for my husband’s advice because a voice in my head was telling me, “Should I abandon this project before I invest more time into it?” Happy to know that the verdict is that the story was compelling enough even though it wasn’t a genre I was used to writing.

I always tell my writers to trust themselves. It’s important. They usually know what’s best for their story. When receiving feedback, I had to stop myself from just doing whatever he said. It took thought. It took filtering through my writing lens. What did I want? Why did I put that element in there? Is it really that important? What’s a better way to write it?

It was hard to hear some of it. And I admit it, I snapped at him a couple times. Luckily, he didn’t get upset with me.. only sympathetic.

Alpha readers are crazy important. Finding a person that you trust to read that rough draft is so enlightening if they are the brutally honest type. Like my guy. I know that when I start sending this off to betas (hopefully in a month or two) and critique circles, his advice will have made a better product to work from during the next phase.

Simply said, I can’t do what he does. Alpha reading seems so difficult. But I’m grateful that I have someone like that and I hope all of you out there do too.

I would love to hear about your alpha reader experiences. I know that my blunders have been epic today!

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5 thoughts on “My Alpha Reader: “This is just confusing.”

  1. I’ve done an alpha read for someone. It was painful. But I pointed out the elements in the story that I liked, scenes I couldn’t picture, scenes that beat you over the head regarding someone’s personality, ‘macro holes’ in the world… She was very discouraged until I told her what I’d learned from Lawrence Hill. His first draft is normally twice the length of the final.
    Her MS is coming along great. But I will never agree to alpha read again!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I actually have great admiration for anyone willing to be an alpha reader and even to my loving partner who already has to put up with my crazy during the normal course of our life, add to that being the first to read my manuscript.

    He has perfected his tone of voice and the way to keep me from flying off the handle, as it were whenever he says something too critical for my fragile ego to take. He is the only person I trust to be honest with me especially when I am at my most homicidal. Other people just seem to go pale and back track with “No, really, it’s all great” which is just not what we need to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No kidding! Sometimes I have moments when I realize I’m talking about the book too much. I should really just love him. He’s awesome and the normal world is good to walk in too 🙂
      Having that person willing to go through the brainstorming/first edit process with you is amazing! So grateful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t mind alpha reading. Maybe it’s because I like to see the “bare bones” of the story and be able to help transform it into something even better. In doing so, I too learn to be a better writer.

    Blunders must be made to be corrected and learned from! But I know you knew that. Even the greatest writing can be torn apart by the critiquer.

    It’s wonderful that your alpha is understanding! And that is so important. I wish you the best, and I know your second draft will be awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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