Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beta Reading

Do you review others' work? Beta reading can be a challenge, especially if the voice is way different from mine. When making suggestions for revision, I try to make no impact on the voice or the flow of the work.

A tremendous amount of time and energy can go into beta reading, but it is a critical part of getting your novel ready for publication.

Some suggestions:
1) Don't be snarky. It adds no value whatsoever, and will alienate yourself from your reading group.
2) Check for the fundamentals. Paragraph and sentence structure, punctuation, spelling. It is easy for a writer to overlook a lot of these, since the brain will often see what it meant to put on the page, not what is actually there.
3) Does a word or a phrase cause to stumble, or pause to consider the message it conveys? If so, it may be best to revise that passage.
4) Is there a natural flow to the story, or is it hard to follow?
5) Characters are harder to convey, but check to see if the character motivation and actions make sense.
6) Continuity - if a character is wearing a red dress, then falls down and rips her blue slacks, a continuity check is in order.

Good luck, and let me know if these tips are useful. I'd also like to know what you look for when reading others' work.


  1. These are thoughtful points to consider. I just read an early remark on a popular social network where a reviewer made a very snarky comment to probably 1000 of her followers. Two thirds into the read she was loving it. I am hesitant to read the completed review. Often, my mood affects my perception of what I'm reading. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Hi Theresa, thanks for stopping by. I have been beta reader for a few people, but don't have much time these days. But a dear friend asked me to go over her first chapter, and I couldn't possibly refuse. Anyway, going through the ms brought these thoughts to mind.

    All the best.