Editing Your Novel Q&A

Editing your novel can bring a host of its own challenges, concerns, and questions. Many of those questions are ultimately the same questions you ask when writing: How to properly structure a story? How to create a strong character arc? How to write a sentence that makes sense?

But some of those questions are unique to the editing process, including questions such as: How do you stay motivated while editing (when you’d really rather be writing)? How do you know when to edit and/or how much? How do you know when to trust what your beta readers and editors tell you?

All of these questions, and more, are among those you’ve been emailing me over the years. Today, I decided to share some of the most pertinent questions, along with my thoughts on their answers.

How Can You Stay Motivated While Editing?

Q. I’m working on editing my novel and it’s been hard going lately. I’m doing a lot of rewrites which is time-consuming in and of itself, but I’m also spellchecking and all that other fun editing stuff. But I’ve found that, since it’s more of a chore than anything else, I’m actively avoiding editing/writing altogether. Used to, I’d write every day, and feel bad if I didn’t. Now, I procrastinate and actively avoid it, even though I know it needs to be done. Any advice to get me motivated again?–R.D.

A. Most writers have a hard time summoning up the same amount of enthusiasm for editing as they do for writing the first draft. Usually, I find this happens when the edits lack focus. Try sitting down and identifying all the problems you know you have with the story. Address every little brain niggle telling you something is wrong. Once you have a list of problems to work on, start brainstorming solutions. Fortunately, the brainstorming is just as fun for editing as it is for writing! Then, once you have a clear path forward, the edits often become much less daunting.

Should You Edit as You Go?

Q. I am constantly reading and rereading what I have written, editing as I go, I guess. Do you just let the story flow without worrying about the edits and then edit at the end?–Cindy H.

A. All writers have to find the rhythm that works for them when it comes to editing. Personally, I like to do a little editing as I go. My process looks something like this:

1. At the beginning of each writing session, I will read back over what I wrote the day before. This allows me to polish it a little, get rid of major typos, and ease myself back into the flow of the story.

2. Every quarter of the story, I will stop and edit the entirety of the book up to that point. Again, this helps me polish things a little and also keeps me fresh on everything I’ve written up to that point.

One thing I don’t do (or try not to do) is edit during my actual writing session. When I’m writing, I write. I try to write as quickly as possible to keep myself from going back and obsessing over each paragraph. I’ve done that in the past and found it very destructive. More on that in this post: Are You Overthinking the First Draft?

Should You Stop to Rewrite Partway Through a Faulty First Draft?

Q. I am at a point where I have written a first draft that contains about 20% of my novel. I would like to continue writing the rest of the story, but I have uncovered a few things that I would like to change in the 20% that I have already written. These are not major changes in the plot or overall structure of the novel, but part of me wants to go back and correct them.

I feel that I am at a crossroads: either I can continue writing the remaining 80% of the novel and (FINALLY!!!!!) have a completed first draft OR I can go back and edit the first 20%, then continue with the rest of the book. Given that you do not know the specifics of my story, from a high-level, what do you think is the preferred way to go in this type of situation in general?–Mike M.

A. There are pros and cons to both approaches you’ve described. Personally, I prefer to stop mid-draft and fix major issues in the earlier part of the book. Primarily, this assuages my general perfectionism (for better or worse). But also, it ensures the beginning of the story will be properly setting up the latter part. Sometimes if you go back to change the early part of the book after having finished the rest of it, those earlier changes end up creating a domino effect that cause the need for more changes all the way through the book.

However, the major pitfall of stopping mid-draft to rewrite is that it can become a procrastination technique. If you feel that stopping now will cause you to lose your current momentum or that (if you’re being honest with yourself) it’s really a delaying tactic because the edits are easier than forging ahead—then I definitely wouldn’t risk stopping now. Go ahead and finish the draft, since that’s most important anyway. Then go back and tweak the early edits.

How Do You Know When You Should Cut a Scene in the Second Draft?

Q. How do you determine a scene needs to go while writing a book? You see I have been stuck on a scene—a dream sequence—that I can’t seem to finish with real purpose on my second draft. I thought it was a beautiful scene on the first draft but now, I can’t justify its presence. –Alberto L.

A. In general, there are two criteria I rely on to determine the validity of a scene’s presence in my story.

1.  Gut Instinct. If I’m feeling a general unsettledness about a scene, that’s almost always a sign something is wrong. This doesn’t mean that “something” can’t be fixed. But it could be the whole scene just needs to go.

2. Scene Structure. If I’ve made sure all my scenes adhere to the cycle of proper structure and are bumping one into another like a seamless row of dominoes, it becomes pretty easy to identify when a scene isn’t flowing well with the rest of the book.

On a more specific level, dream sequences are almost always suspect. They’re very tricky for a number of reasons, not least the fact that they’re at a remove from the rest of the story and are often lacking in conflict or anything that drives the plot. When in doubt on a dream, I would always recommend cutting it.

Are You Rewriting Your Story Too Much?

Q. I have several pieces in the works, one series I have been working on for six years but the problem I keep having with everything I write is all of the possibilities, all of the “what if this happened instead” which leads to a complete overhaul and rewrite and then I never seem to finish anything because I keep making changes. I feel like this is a complete amateur mistake, and maybe if I had gone to school I would have learned how to avoid this pitfall. All I want is to finish something. To hold a complete story in my hands. Do you have any advice for this? It’s possible I just think too much.–Bethany W.

A. First of all, this isn’t an amateur mistake—this is something many authors struggle with. And second, it’s not necessarily even a mistake.

We’re all in pursuit of the perfect story. Sometimes that means overhauling a manuscript many times to make sure we’re presenting the right plot and characters to take full advantage of a premise idea. This only becomes a problem when:

1. It turns into a procrastination technique keeping you from moving onto the next phase or project.

2. You’re not really improving the story, just changing it.

The first thing I’d have you ask yourself is “Why are you changing it?” Are you changing it because you’re identifying and correcting legitimate story weaknesses? Or are you changing it just for the sake of change?

If the former, keep at it (you’ll find that future stories will require less and less of these major overhauls as you grow in experience).

If the latter, then, yeah, that’s something you probably want to address as its own problem. Set the story aside for a few months. Work on something else. Then return to the first story with fresh eyes and evaluate where you’re really at with it.

What Are Beta Readers and How Do You Use Them?

Q. Please tell me the advantages and disadvantages of having beta readers. Do you pay them? What qualifications do they have? How do you find them? How do you know when they are right? What if they disagree?–Terence Y.

A. Good questions, all! The basic (and crucial) advantage of using beta readers is that they can bring a fresh, objective perspective to your work. It’s almost impossible for authors to be 100% objective about their own work or to spot all the mistakes after becoming so familiar with the story. Beta readers can help you understand how actual readers will react—and how to correct problems before they get started.

You don’t pay them. (You would only want to pay a professional freelance editor.) Beta readers are either other writers (with whom you’ll probably swap critiques, repaying them in essence by reading their book in return) or casual readers who are willing to read and respond to your work.

I’ve written quite a bit about beta readers, so to answer the rest of your questions, I’ll direct you to some of my posts:

Should You Accept All Your Editor’s Suggestions?

Q. I am looking for a copy editor for my first novel and am coming up against the question of where the line is between good copy edit suggestions and edits that change my voice and style. I realize this is something that is likely different for every author, but I was wondering if you could give me any advice on the subject?–Trish H.

A. You’re right about the answer to your question being subjective. It depends on to what degree the editor is correct, and except in matters such as grammar, that’s ultimately a decision only you can make.

I recommend reading all the suggested changes, then sitting with them for a few days to try to gain as much objectivity as possible. If you still feel the suggested changes violate your personal vision for the story and do not improve it in a logical way, then feel free to reject the suggestions.

Another rule of thumb I employ as a safety net is the “two people must agree rule.” This means that if I initially reject one editor or critique partner’s suggestions, only to have that same concern brought up by someone else, then I know the concern probably isn’t subjective and is something I need to re-evaluate.

How Long Should the Editing Process Take?

Q. Although I am also rather a perfectionistic person, I was nevertheless amazed at just how involved your editing process is with all the beta editors, etc. Is this “standard,” or are you also inclined to perfectionism? Frankly, if I were to do all this, it would take me two or three years more to get my novel finished.–Manuel D.

A. First thing I’ll say is that, it does take me several years to produce a book. But I believe this extended timeline is important in producing a quality product, not just because it allows for the in-depth editing process, but also because the length of time itself contributes to better objectivity toward my work on my part.

There really isn’t an industry standard for editing anymore. Some people whip out a book every year. But I highly recommend that authors slow down and take as much time as they need to produce a quality book. Very few books by very few authors are going to be ready to take readers by storm after less than a year.


In so many ways, being a good editor is really about being a good question-asker. If you can figure out the right questions to ask about your manuscript, then you’re more than halfway to figuring out the right answers.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What are your burning questions about editing your novel? Tell me in the comments below!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Such good advice, as always! I edit my manuscript continually so that by the time my draft is done, my novel is done and ready for proofreading. The key to doing this well is to start macro and end micro. Meaning, if you aren’t sure your story is rock solid in terms of structure, all the nitpicky word switching is a waste of time.

    First ensure you have all the right scenes in the right places. Be sure each scene has a clear purpose that advances and complicates the plot. Be sure you have your ten key scenes that lay the framework for your story. Be sure you have a clear and intentional high moment at the end of each scene (you can download my scene checklist and 8 Steps to a Perfect Scene from my website resource page at Live Write Thrive–they’ll help!).

    Once all those scenes are in place and serving the purpose you intend, then move toward micro editing. Look at big-picture items individually, like dialogue and voice (each scene should sound like the POV character–every line, every word). Save the punctuation for last.

    I find what’s super helpful and fun (to get out of the editing rut) is to work on scenes out of order. Once you have the structure tight, grab any scene and work on it until it’s perfect. Then after going through all your scenes like that, either print out the manuscript or do a “virtual” toss in the air and pick individual pages at random to do the fine-tooth editing. One random page should have every word perfect. Does is sing with inner and outer conflict and tension? How much mystery and microtension do you have on that one page? Is the dialogue serving more than one purpose, tight, in character voice, with subtext and emotional implication?

    These are some of the things I do, and I believe if you work hard at being a brutal self-editor all the way through the process (and, yes, like Katie, I avoid doing any of this hard editing while writing the scene initially), you can end up with a tight first draft that needs minimal work.

  2. BK Jackson says

    Of this entire Q&A post, the part I resonated with most is when Bethany W said “the problem I keep having with everything I write is all of the possibilities, all of the “what if this happened instead” etc.

    That is my #1 problem. Writing is so much fun BECAUSE of all the millions of possibilities within a given plot. It’s fun to think about all the angles and possibilities, but it can also put a strangle-hold on you to where you never get anything done.

    I wish I could say I’ve mastered a solution but I haven’t. I love this process yet wish I could control it better too. However, that’s where another piece of advice in this post comes in handy—the idea of going back to edit after you’ve written around 20% of your manuscript—to identify problems BEFORE you’ve finished an entire manuscript and set yourself up for problems that are more difficult to correct.

    This is a difficult process on a stand-alone novel and the endless ideas are 100-fold more complex when you’re thinking through a series! 😎

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’ve come to see writing a novel as the act of balancing on the tension point between Chaos and Order. We need the chaos of our creativity–all those “what if” questions–but we also have to funnel them into order–the concrete nature of the story itself–if we’re to avoid drowning in all the possibilities.

  3. Tina Winograd says

    As a professional editor and ghostwriter, I’d say KW’s self edit process is a very good method. In addition to that, the more time spent in outlining the story, the less big things should need to be fixed. If you fix before writing, then there’s no need to go back.

    Small ideas of adds or cuts–when writing, make a note in the ms then later come back and make the adds. Scrivener has notes to add notes and Word has comments. I just make the note then keep writing.

    I suggest that you complete the first draft before doing big editing. You have to have something down if you want to get to the edit stage.

    Again, to minimize big changes, work off an outline. If you hate outlining, then you are going to have bigger problems emerge. Then you stop writing because it becomes hard, eventually stopping completely.

    Don’t do that to yourself. Would you drive to the northern part of Canada without a map of any kind? You can’t think that you’ll get there if you keep heading north.

    Last thing. If you get an idea that would be really cool and you want to use, save it for another story. That will be the umph needed to do another book.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Great points. Ultimately, the right method for any writer depends on what best enables the creativity while minimizing the feeling that any particular part of the process is drudgery. Finding that flow is a little different for all of us, but we can all learn from what works for others.

  4. ingmarhek says

    Great answers to great questions.

  5. This was great information and very helpful especially since I’m at the beginning of editing and rewriting my manuscript.
    You asked about burning questions, this is more a curiosity. Who do you think has more trouble editing/rewriting their work-pantsers or plotters? I have my own opinion based on what I do and what I’ve seen from other writers (I used to be an editor), but I’m curious what you think and why you think it’s one way or the other or not. Thanks in advance.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m sure there are exceptions, but I’d say pantsers. This is because plotters work out their problems in the prep stage, while pantsers work them out in revision. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other, but it’s important to realize that both types of writers eventually have to address all the same logical issues of constructing and streamlining their ideas.

  6. Christine says

    I’m a Beta reader for a friend of mine. In her book, she has the child reading the journal of her late mother (about how her parents met and got married etc). She puts the date at the top and then continues with scenes as if it is part diary/part reality. She uses direct speech (dialogue). This is bothering me. I recall reading a book about Cornwall’s history that used a journal this way and then continued the scenes with dialogue. It bothered me that no reported speech was used. Or is this too clumsy? What is your take on this? Thx!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s a gimmick, to be sure, which means that whether or not it works depends on *both* the author’s skill in executing it and the reader’s willingness to accept it (which will always be subjective). Generally, I’d advise against gimmicks; they’re rarely worth the risk, especially if they affect the entire narrative.

  7. Thanks for another phenomenal article, K.M. Being a pantser (big-time), I wanted to comment on Susan’s question. Yes, pantsers pay for what they do. I’m stuck in the middle of Book 3 of a trilogy because I wrote the entire thing out at one time. Now, I have to go back, “sprinkle” back-story, borrow chapters, double-check dates, and come up with something to fill this huge hole in the middle of Book 3. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve tried plotting before. I felt like I’d written it and there was nothing left to do. Totally unmotivated to proceed. Stephen King (pantser) said if you plot it out and you know how it ends, where’s the fun in that? He likes to see what his characters are doing to do. So do I. And they always surprise me!

    As for Beta Readers, God bless them every one. They are your reading audience, and they always come up with something you didn’t catch. In fact, the one thing I’ve missed the most in this pandemic thing is my weekly, brutally-honest critique group. I can’t wait to gather again face-to-face. Like everyone else, I could use a cup or two or motivation right about now!

    Caden St. Claire

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I wouldn’t say you “pay” for what you do. :p We all have to do the work one way or another. It’s just that each of us how to find the flow that is comparatively easiest for us.

  8. Thank you for another helpful article. This is timely for me because I have a first draft, and I’ve spent a few months working it over and mulling it. I did outline beforehand, but there were many things I learned during the draft and review process. Right now I’m forcing myself to wait and consider alternatives before starting the second draft, which will have too many adjustments for me to charitably discuss in a post response.

    One thing that helps me, and I think it would help other authors, particularly pantsers, is that when I’m drafting I do scene/line edits, but when something comes to mind that would involve serious rewriting, I make a note of it and keep moving. It feels to me like this helps with the draft revision process and allows me to review significant changes with a more holistic view of the story itself. Guess what? Some of them weren’t particularly good ideas.

    Of course, I’ve never gotten past the first draft, so I may not be the best source, but I have written 4 first drafts.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is a good tip–one you’ll find endorsed by many successful writers. I like Scrivener for this, since it offers many convenient places to leave and organize notes while drafting.

  9. I self-edit as I go as well. And beta readers have taught me that my instincts are dead on, as they will flag as problems the very things that nagged at me about a story. This is one reason to have readers, to learn to trust yourself as a writer.

    I want to expand a little more on the question of accepting or rejecting a comment.
    A writer might be tempted to dismiss a suggestion if it conflicts with a goal, or tempted to obey a suggestion because you think “well, they’re the expert.” There’s a middle ground, and the deciding factor should be based on the writer’s goals for the story.

    Let’s suppose you have a story where an evil twin, Ted, ends up in a wood chipper in chapter 12. Ted reappears, healthy and hale in chapter 24. Readers tell you that this is out of left field, they think you meant to write some other character’s name, e.g., Ned, his twin brother.

    Only, you really did mean Ted, and you meant for Ted to not be human at all, but a fairy changeling who replaced Ned’s true twin. Your goal was for Ted’s reappearance to be a marvelous reveal of the fay, but your readers just see his reappearance as incompetence on your part, and toss the book across the room.

    If your first instinct is to ignore this reaction, and just leave things as-is, don’t. Instead, focus on your goal. Focus on everyone believing that Ted’s reveal that he’s a fairy/elf is just something pulled out of thin air. This means you need to foreshadow that fay exist. You decide to drop in the info in chapter 4.

    However, maybe readers or an editor tell you to cut that paragraph where you mention them. They say the paragraph drags and undercuts tension or whatever, and they might not have reached chapter 24 yet. Simply resist cutting the paragraph? No. Just remove the foreshadowing? No, especially if your jaded editor is just having a classic Glorfindel moment, where she thinks, “not another effing elf; I’m done with elves!”

    Ignore the anti-Glorfindel sentiment – Tolkien did! — and concentrate on the “paragraph is boring” assessment: Is it actually an info dump? Then in that case, cut the paragraph, but take the information and weave it into the story another way.

    Where before your characters speculated that the crop circles in their farms are from aliens, perhaps you’ll have a character propose that they’re fairy rings. “Better carry iron,” Sue jokes. Your protagonist will scoff, and Sue could explain about the fairy lore around these parts, and drop the key hint that fairies always have red eyes and are vulnerable to iron.

    If readers are now angry that no one ever reacted to Ted’s red eyes, but you want Ted to have red eyes? Take that feedback and have him always wear sunglasses, even at night. And he’ll carry a white walking stick. Readers will assume he’s blind, which could explain how he ended up in Sue’s woodchipper in chapter 12.

    When he reappears in chapter 24, without sunglasses and with his glowing red eyes, readers will now think that this is a cool reveal of his fairyness. They’ll remember Sue bragging about the chipper’s titanium blades, and will realize that she was right about needing iron to defeat a fairy. Mission accomplished.

    The point is, always think of the feedback in terms of your goals for the story.

  10. Being too busy (ha ha) or too lazy to read all the comment please forgive for being redundant.

    One of your readers asked if they should get rid of a scene they wrote and love. My answer to that is yes and no. No if it doesn’t add anything to the story or to the characters. However, if you are really proud of it and love it, yes keep it, but not in the story you are currently writing. Save it for another story. Who knows? Perhaps this one scene will inspire you to write a fresh and brand new story.

    I would go one step further and create a folder and call it Gems and when you write another great scene that you need to get rid of paste it in your Gems folder. Now if your thinking is: I know this is trash, but for some unknown reason I like it. Then create another folder and call it Garbage.

    One of the advantages of this is if one day you’re bored, you’re out of ideas, and uninspired you can go to one or both of these folders and get ideas and get inspired.

    I believe our subconscious is a little bit like Mother Nature she can be rude at your most inopportune and precious time, but she most always has something important to say.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I just call my folder Deleted Data. But I like the idea of re-titling it “Gems.”

    • I used to do a lot of composing and arranging–former prof’l musician….I always kept a file w/ideas & melodic snippets I’d written and liked, but didn’t fit into the current piece. Some of these have been used to create new compositions; what was originally intended as a jazzy waltz, becomes a salsa dance tune…or a flute solo! Now as a writer, I keep a “Text Parking Lot” on my Scrivener project. That’s where I put text I really like, but had to cut from a scene. Maybe it could go elsewhere? different scene? Maybe it will wind up in a future book?

  11. Casandra Merritt says

    Right now I am editing the first chapter of my first draft. I am strongly tempted to leave it and work on something else because it feels like I’ll never finish it, but I can’t until it’s at least near perfect because everything flows from the first chapter.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, if I’ve having a huge problem getting the first chapter right, it’s usually a signal to me that the real problem lies in my outlining for what’s still to come.

  12. Staci Ana says

    I have a scene that is a bit explanatory. To make more sense I’ll explain a little more about it. XD

    So my two main characters have been through a tragedy that rocks their world. Things that they’d need, clothes, food, schooling, etc. they all have changed.. To have it make sense, I thought I’d have to explain a little about what happens after the tragedy. All of their clothes were destroyed, they’re worried about their cousin they now have to live with… it doesn’t really improve their overall plot or theme, but it gives some more detail- like I don’t want my readers asking, so where’d they get their clothes if they all got destroyed? But does this make sense?

    I’m on my second draft and I still can’t figure out whether or not to keep the scene, because it fills in what happens once they arrive at their new home, what they do for the things they need, and shows that they’re nervous about their step-sister/cousin. The theme has nothing to do with this. Should I keep it or leave it in the third draft??

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      If the scene is interesting in its own right, definitely keep it. If not, you may be able to simply mention where they got their clothes and/or beef up the scene so it contains the necessary interest level while also conveying information.

  13. Great discussion here as always. Thanks, Kaitlyn. I almost always read your posts from beginning to end, but don’t always make a comment. Just wanted you to know.

  14. When I think about the editing I’ve done on my work, a 46-page lore book on my game world was about a 4 month process of writing and editing. 9 edits to make it just right.

    But it still is far from done. My first beta reader suggestions, add more story to it to bring out what is happening in Trinity City, which I will do when I start play testing it later this year. Connecting the players with the story will be one of the major ways I market myself.

    The other suggestion, using the Hemingway App. I love that program, so easy to see ways to improve your writhing, with colour coded errors.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’ve heard many good things about that app.

      • I’m only using the free version online, but I really enjoy it. I’m more of a big picture person, small details escape me. Don’t ask how many times I forgot to ‘carry the 1’ in math class.

        The Hemingway app helps me see the errors in plain sight and correct them.

  15. I have a strategy that really works for me. It is quite time-consuming, but of great value. When I’m ready to edit either an entire manuscript, or just a long section: I record the text on Garage Band in chapters, then listen to it on a long trip in my car. My phone is opened to a doc on google drive, so once in awhile I pull over and record notes: “you’ve said ‘blatantly’ three times already;” “the part about Joe’s mom is way too long;” “awkward alliteration in chapter 4 when Maria says xyz;” etc., etc. Later on, I sit down and act on all my notes. The benefit of this approach is first of all, I catch lots of stuff in the process of recording. But listening to it all….it’s amazing what you will notice…not just micro stuff, but macro, such as “You haven’t justified why character x is motivated to do y.”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Great use of your time. I will often read my work aloud–or use a program that will read it to me. This is great for many reasons, but especially for typo hunting.

      • barry Nitikman says

        I just started doing this! It saves a lot of time, but of course the robotic voices with the random inflections can be distracting. I’m using @VOICE ALOUD, after trying TTS and just the Google TTS. Which are you using?

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          I find the robotic voices can sometimes be helpful in giving me a new perspective on my words–since I’m not able to dictate the inflection. I will either use my old Keyboard Kindle, which has a Read Aloud feature, or Adobe Reader.

  16. Like many of the others, I am having a hard time editing my first draft. I wish I had done some initial editing (like your next day re-read and mid-story editing,) maybe I would have a finished story.
    Thank You

  17. barry Nitikman says

    Hey Patrick, what is the biggest problem you are encountering? What gets you the most frustrated and just stuck?

  18. At what point in the editing process does one include beta readers? What about alpha readers? (The difference between these two confuses me sometimes) I’ve read conflicting advice on this- sometimes suggest alpha readers right after an unedited first draft, and beta readers after after further drafts.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      In my experience, the terms alpha readers and beta readers are used pretty interchangeably,. When you bring them into your process will be a subjective decision. Personally, I’ve found I do my best work when I don’t let anyone read it until I’ve finished the first draft and polished it several times. I don’t like receiving input too early since it can derail me from my own vision and/or discourage me from finishing at all. I’ve written about this here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/keeping-your-writing-secret/

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