It's weird to hear my character's names coming out of someone else's mouth. My first beta reader (not coincidentally, also my wife) has been talking about the book, sharing in her general excitement, as she reads. I didn't exactly expect it all to go down this way. My assumption was that she'd read the manuscript and then hand it back with a bunch of red scribbles, a coffee-stain or two, and some general thoughts and comments. What's happened instead, however, has been completely unexpected and super-helpful.
What's cool is that I'm getting to see and hear her reaction to my words, in real-time. As she reads, I'm listening to what she tells me about characters she both wants to hear more about and characters she needs to hear more about. Her thought bubbles are right out there to see, which is great for me, as the author. I know if she's curious about the things she's supposed to be curious about and if her attention is focused on something that it possibly wasn't intended to be focused on. When she has a "woah" moment after reading a chapter, I'm hearing about that right away. When she's kind of like, "what just happened", I can start re-working that scene in my mind, immediately. She's doing a lot of foreshadowing and predicting on the direction of the story, which is so much fun to listen to. I want to know what the reader is thinking, chapter by chapter, line by line, word by word. So far, this experience is giving me just that.
If only we always could have such insight into what our readers are thinking.