What I learnt this week: my husband as a beta reader

The good, the bad and the ugly…

My husband doesn’t enjoy reading romantic fiction. More than that, he doesn’t even enjoy reading fiction. His reading material of choice would be an autobiography or a gadget magazine.

So perhaps he’s not the ideal choice for a beta reader. However he is free and very convenient. Here is how it went down with my latest manuscript.

The good

He has listened to my previous complaints and stopped using a red pen. A major step forward. His eye for detail is (annoyingly) good and he’s come up with many comments and suggestions that I actually can’t fault him on. He’s also stopped writing she should see a heart doctor every time I use phrases such as her pulse raced or her heart pounded.

The bad

His handwriting is terrible. Asking him to comment is one thing, trying to decipher those comments is like trying to solve a puzzle. It takes me days. There are also a LOT of comments, which equals a lot of sighing on my side. Here are some sample pages.

Andrews comments 3 Andrews comments beta reader

I know, I know, I did ask for them. The trouble is, after spending half an hour trying to work out what he’s written, it’s a little annoying to find sometimes he’s just having a little joke to himself. Snide comments such us how did they manage to trick such a demi-god? (referring to my gorgeous hero). And what, another shower? How clean do they need to be. No, don’t you dare start to laugh, you’ll only encourage him. 

The ugly

Umm, that would be the rather heated discussions we have following some of his suggestions. You see the trouble with using your husband as a beta reader is that he always thinks he’s right. Even when he’s wrong. But of course many times in a work of fiction there is no right or wrong. If the plot doesn’t work, I want to know so I can fix it. But if my beta-reader is bored because my hero and heroine are pussy footing around each other and haven’t got it together yet…does that mean the romance isn’t working, or does it reflect the difference between a man who likes to read factual books and a woman who loves to read (and write) romantic fiction?

I’m now on the look out for a lover of romantic fiction who would be happy to read my unedited manuscripts and advise on what works and what doesn’t. If you’re interested, please let me know.

You’ll potentially be saving my marriage.

No red pens allowed.



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