Betas’ Memory (and How Trappings Color Readers’ Experiences)

My family seems to be very slowly making their way through ShardsIt seems like every week a different cousin or aunt or uncle is reading it, which is honestly a bit flattering, that everyone’s bothering.

Last week my mother told me that she’d read it, and she said that she was really glad I’d added Thor into the story, that she had really liked him.

The weird thing is–Thor’s been there the whole time, and my mother read the first draft of the book. In fact, I barely touched him at all in my edit, aside from adding an epilogue scene (which of course has other characters in it as well and isn’t focused on him) and having a few other characters mention him before he actually shows up so it wasn’t out of the blue.

It’s interesting being a beta, and then reading the same story in later drafts or after it’s released. You have a memory of how the story went, but most of the time specifics don’t stick unless they either annoyed or pleased you more than usual. You spend a lot of time kind of peering at the text, remembering something slightly different, or wildly different.

But it’s also weird how much you forget, and how much changes in the story can change a readers’ perception of what’s happening. A few paragraphs of description can change the feel of an entire scene, or moving dialogue from one character to another can give the words different meaning.

In this particular case, apparently a few mentions and a new scene–no changes to the original scenes or dialogue–made a character much more memorable for my mother.

Have you ever come across a situation, either in your own writing or through reading something in multiple stages, where an easy change made things wildly different?

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