Egon: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Egon: Don't cross the streams.
Egon: It would be bad.
Peter: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean "bad"?
Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray: Total Protonic Reversal.
Peter: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
While I think it's a rare day when Ghostbuster's logic doesn't explain life as I know it, some of you might be wondering if I need to see a "special" kind of doctor. I'll explain. First of all, you'll remember at the end of Ghostbusters--they cross the streams, right? It's the only way at times.
So, you're currently booking on your WIP or NaNo book.... Everything is going either good or bad, but it's going. At what point, do you bring a beta in to assess? I mean... if you're only 20K into something--it's maybe one third of the way done, but YOU KNOW it's going to go through heavy rewrites before you really WANT to show it to anyone. For crying out loud, if you're Diana, you've probably got a bunch of embarrassing homophones hanging around laughing at you behind your back. Write, Diana? I mean, right? (Snicker) Just kidding. Homophones are tricky little buggers.
On the other hand--what if you're taking it the wrong direction? What if your audience is like "what the crap? I have NO idea what you're even talking about here." If you get a beta in there to assess the damage and praise the good stuff--maybe--just maybe you can get things going in the right direction.
The reason I'm thinking of this is that my sister had a really, really, really bad week this week. Funerals. Pet death. Bad. Her sister bailed on her due to some lame sickness that has brought her nigh onto death. So, my sister asked to read all my WIP because she needed to read something new that would restore her joi de verve. It's rare that I let people see my WIPs--especially since I can finish them so fast. I held off on Honor Six (which I've discovered people have been desperate to harass me about, but afraid I'll quit if they do.) I handed over Scorched, Versus the Bounty, and the Chosen Changeling. As I did so, I realized that I actually wanted advice. What was worth finishing next? I'll finish Scorched of course, but I wasn't sure what to do about the Chosen Changeling. I was booking on Versus the Bounty for a while, and then I got distracted by NaNo. So, anyway... she came back saying that she liked the Chosen Changeling the best (which I wasn't shelving, but it was lower on my list of things to finish. I was genuinely shocked. It might be the genre, but still....)
So, bringing in betas to give opinions on an unfinished product... can you do it? Even if there are major flaws that would embarrass you if your beta buddy mentioned it on her blog?
I'm a perfectionist so it takes a really good reason for me to hand around copies of something unfinished. On the other hand, the wisdom of Ghostbusters--sometimes you just need to cross the streams.
Today, I'm going into the doctor--as soon as the temperature outside is about forty degrees. Brrr.