After all that work, you might have to do rewrite your novel again. But why? The biggest reason is because your beta readers might have pointed out issues you missed. Or perhaps they gave you ideas on how to improve your story. Here are just a few things beta readers might point out that will require you to rewrite your novel:
Not enough conflict – Perhaps a beta reader said parts of your story are too slow. This is usually because there’s not enough tension or conflict in your story. Review your character(s) goals, motivations, and conflict.
Weak characters – Perhaps one or more of your characters are flat. Maybe they’re too nice and never make mistakes. Or maybe they’re just not interesting. Consider both their strengths and their flaws and use them against your character. Give them goals, motivations, and conflict. And be sure to show the character rather than tell the reader about your character.
Boring scenes – An occasional slow scene is a good thing for pacing. But too many slow scenes in a row can cause your reader to put down your book. If your beta reader tells you a chapter is slow, consider your options: delete it, spice it up, or leave it as is because the proceeding and succeeding chapters are fast.
Needs rising action – Having your character go from one bad situation to another without the stakes getting higher can be boring. You must raise the stakes with the worst possible dilemma your character faces being toward the end.
Show don’t tell – Don’t tell your readers about your character or about the scene. Show it to them through your character’s viewpoint. For example, ‘Sally was mad’, is telling. ‘Sally clenched her fists and bared her teeth’ is showing the reader that she’s mad.
Point of view problems – Unless your writing in omniscient point of view, make sure your story is told through one character at a time. If you need the story told from multiple characters, separate each character’s point of view by chapter or by a line break.
Choppy writing style – Vary your sentence structures. Don’t always start with a subject. Start a few sentences with a subordinating conjunction. And start very few sentences with an adverb, verb, gerund, infinitive, or coordinating conjunction. Also look at your sentence lengths. Your sentence lengths should vary. Don’t write a bunch of short sentences in a row unless the action of the scene calls for it.
Same mistakes over and over – Your beta readers may point out that you overused certain words. Words like was or that, or even smiled or nodded can be way overdone. Or maybe you don’t use your commas properly or you start every sentence with he or she.
As you review the feedback from your beta-readers, keep in mind that not all feedback is created equal. Some feedback might be opinions you don’t share. Some feedback might be wrong. Don’t despair if your manuscript comes back with a bunch red lines and comments. Not all will apply, and these corrections are a learning opportunity. Rewrite your novel knowing that each change is an improvement.
Tell me about the feedback you’ve received from beta readers and how it made you a better writer.