Some folks make better beta readers than other folks do. When you go looking for beta readers, it’s good to know the characteristics of both kinds of readers, so that you can ask for help from the folks who will be better at it and more help you improve your writing.
Let’s start with the list of characteristics that you don’t want.
- For starters, you want someone who understands writing. You don’t have to have perfect grammar when you write, but someone with poor grammar, spelling or understanding of how words go together is going to have a hard time helping you catch problems in your work.
- You want someone who understands storytelling. A person who can’t tell a story himself will have a hard time helping you to tell yours
- You want someone who knows and enjoys your genre. If that person hates mysteries, she’ll have a hard time telling you if yours is any good or not and won’t be familiar with the traditions and tropes of your genre.
- You want someone who gives clear and useful feedback. “I hated this.” gives you nothing to work with, but “It bothered me that the girl was afraid, but still chose to go out into the dark to investigate the noise without telling anyone.” gives you information that you can work with.
- You want someone who’s not excessively nice. Some people are so afraid of hurting your feelings that they’ll say everything is good, which doesn’t help you find and fix the parts that aren’t.
- Finally, you want someone who’s not excessively nasty either. Some folks say they want brutally frank feedback and the more brutal the better, but that’s not always helpful. Some beta readers are trying to help you improve your writing, but some are just out to draw blood, and “This writing sucks.” not only gives you nothing helpful to work with, but also is an attempt to mess with your self esteem that can damage your ability to write. Clear and honest is good- brutal, not so, not so.
When looking for beta readers, you want people who know enough to be helpful and care enough to want to help. The characteristics above, while not total deal breakers, should make you stop and think about whether this is the right person to help you with your writing.
More on beta readers coming up…
For more information on Catherine’s books, “Adventures in Palmistry”, “The Practical Empath – Surviving and Thriving as a Psychic Empath”, “Manifesting Something Better”, “The Psychic Power of Your Dreams”, “Magick for Pennies” and her urban fantasy “The Lands That Lie Between”, all from Foresight Publications, click here
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