Beta reading

So last night I got to do my first reading for the Durham Writers Group. With the third Applied Science story (now titled The Spider Strikes) coming due, I figured I’d take that one for some beta-reading.
It was a mix of helpful and headscratching. Some of that may be due to the fact it’s the third story in the series—which makes it hard to come in cold—and probably half of them weren’t SF fans, which didn’t help (in hindsight, it might have been useful to break down responses from genre and non-genre fans to see if there were any patterns).
That being said, they didn’t have some useful points about language and word use, and about the pacing—though funnily enough, where I’d worried I was too slow and talky, they thought the action was too fast (hence the headscratching). Apparently the scene cuts contributed to that (I have several) but I think I can work around that.
Several people also found the number of characters overwhelming, which is the same thing TYG said about Claws That Catch. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with my other beta-readers who’re more genre-oriented, so I’m not sure what it implies (maybe that I’m not doing a good job differentiating the characters?).
I noted down all the comments and will look at them again next week. It’s always good to take a break after receiving feedback—that way I calm down and don’t start muttering “Fools, blind fools—they will rue the day they denied my genius!” Because I’m pretty sure I’ll agree with some of the points when I look at them again.

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