Whatever it is you feel the need to explain, just stop. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, your friend asks for clarification, than you swat them with a 30,000 word conspectus detailing exactly how the character names are pronounced, in syllable breakdowns, complete with regional variants.
But that’s unlikely to happen. The beta reader has already perused your manuscript, made notes, annotations, decided which critical words to say so they won’t hurt your feelings too much, and have formed an opinion of your aforementioned masterpiece. So if you send them back a message, explaining something they didn’t like, understand, or simply didn’t work for them, you’re not educating them about your literary gymnastics that was too subtle for them.
You’re making excuses.
I know, because I’ve done it. For years, without realizing what I was doing. Holy shit, I’m embarrassed about it, too. I thought it was writers talking shop, you know, and some of it was. Some of it was insightful conversation. But most of it was just me, trying to make excuses for why something didn’t work in the story. I hate that it took me this long to realize it. I feel I owe my beta readers (yes, even those of you who read the only zombie story I ever wrote) an apology. You know who you are.
There’s an old saying about writers that I’ll paraphrase: if they have to explain what they meant after you’ve read it, then they didn’t do their job as a writer.
Sure, there’s the occasional reviewer who really doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, or just hate the story so much that they tell you to burn the damn manuscript, change your name, and relocate to another country—but, come on. If you sent them your work to begin with, you trusted them to be honest. So don’t leap to the attack because you don’t agree with their opinion.
You don’t like what they think? Then rewrite it, make it better. Make it kick some serious literary ass. But this isn’t about proving somebody wrong. It’s proving you’ve got what it takes to listen to constructive criticism, go with your gut, and make the next version even better. See, the burden of proof is on you. Nobody else.
So the next time you get a critique, and you’re tempted to send back a reply, don’t. I won’t, except to thank that person, promise to reciprocate by reviewing their material, and leave it at that. Unless they ask for that glossary of names, and then, watch out, because I could drive people insane with the ‘exotic’ monikers in my science fiction and fantasy drafts. Especially the ones with multiple apostrophes.