Giving Up Control

Today, I gave up control — I sent a draft of my first novel, A Fitting Place out into the world.

Well, not the whole world, but to ten “beta readers” who have volunteered to help me birth my child.  Ten people who will tell me what I can do to make my novel better.  

Almost every day for the last two years, I’ve worked on this fictional tale of a competent and capable woman who pays a high price for getting involved in a rebound romance.  I tried to make good use every bit of art and craft available to a writer of fiction. Does the plot work? Will the pace keep the reader turning the page? Does each chapter have its own story arc? Are my characters sympathetic and credible? Have I left any loose ends?  

But after two years, I know my characters too well … what they like and don’t like, what they dream about and what they eat for breakfast.  I can no longer be objective about what is on the printed page. I see on the page what I have in my mind.  

But my beta readers don’t know my characters. Will they like them?  Will they joy in their successes and empathize with their failures?  Will they keep turning the page?

I expected I’d be drowning in anxiety.  But for once, I seem to be taking my own advice about letting go, about giving up control. It feels I’m on a well-deserved vacation.  

Check back in a month’s time.  That when they will gather to tell me what they think.


  1. Congratulations, Mary! The anticipation building as you await the return of your Beta Readers’ comments is one of the most sublime parts of writing. Well, maybe not sublime, but certainly like nothing else in all the world, except maybe a child’s first ballet recital.

  2. My goodness, you are reading back in time …. your comment reminds me that I never did a blog on the recommendations of my beta readers (last July!) The short version is that they “got” the personality and idiosyncrasies of my protagonist and antagonist. They also loved plot, the pace, and the ending. They did, however, have some very good suggestions for ways to increase the tension as the relationship between the two builds. I decided to take a few months off, in part because I was absorbed with the trip to Nepal, and in part to establish a little more distance before I started the third (and I hope final) draft. The timing of your comment is amazing, as today is the day I started working on it again!.

    Happy New Year!