Almost nine years ago, my wife started helping me film weddings. At first, I enjoyed working with her, but then I discovered a dark secret. She’s persnickety.
It was Awful
She would look at my perfect wedding films and say things like, “It doesn’t feel right,” or “Something’s off.” She offered these vague criticisms after I spent hours on a project, and it drove me nuts. I thought, what the heck does she know? She’s not a video editor. I went to school for video production. I know what I’m doing!
After some long nights and a few arguments, she got more specific with her comments, and I soon realized that she was right. She may not have gone to school for video or lacked the technical jargon to explain the problem, but in her gut, she knew something was wrong (the cuts weren’t on the beat, a clip was bobbly, a shot was too dark).
After a while, her comments got more specific. She would point stuff out and tell me that I didn’t have to change anything, but being a perfectionist myself, I couldn’t leave the mistakes in the edit. Over time, I learned to recognize the common problems before she reviewed the films, which ended up making my editing infinitely better.
Her feedback ended up transforming my business and allowed me to go from part-time to full-time within just a few short months. All because she pushed me, and I learned to set aside my ego (still working on that part). That was when I realized that a college degree or knowing some jargon doesn’t make you smarter than someone else. It doesn’t make you an expert either. All of us can bring something to the table, whether that is a critique of a wedding film or a science fiction novel. The odds are that you notice something (a problem) that the creator missed.
That’s Why I Need You!
Your initial reaction to an issue in my story might be to ignore it. Either because you aren’t an author (you invalidate your own opinion) or have trouble putting your gut reaction into concrete terms. I invite you to get past that.
If something feels wrong in chapter twelve, tell me that even if you can’t fully explain it. Let me hear your gut reaction first. Please don’t hold back because the problem seems small. What might seem small may very well be what transforms my story from mediocre to something great. 🙂
Thanks for reading this long post, and when you are ready to join the Beta Reading team, shoot me an email!