Practical Guide to Beta Reading a Top Hit

betareadingThere is no better news than the news that finds its way to you about making a yearly ‘best of’ list (or one of the many different iterations of the ‘best of’). I’m lucky enough to find myself on the ‘most read’ list over at Writers Bloc with my article “A Practical Guide To Beta Reading”. It’s a double victory because it was one hell of a difficult article to write and was the culmination of a number of ideas I’d had for a long time. To know it hit a chord with lots of readers is quite a nice feeling.

You can see the entire list here or do a quick click through to the guide (complete with a handy downloadable PDF). There’s also the companion piece Beta Reading As Translation.

Many thanks to Sam and the folks at Writers Bloc for their on going financial support of their blog contributors. Also a big thank you to my writing group, The Magic Puppies, especially Lois Spangler and Dave Versace, who slipped not once, but twice, down an Inception-style rabbit hole to beta read articles on beta reading!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This post marks the 600th post on this blog! Even more reason to celebrate!

Beta Reading At The Writers Bloc Part 2

betareadingSam van Zweden, the editor at The Writers Bloc, asked me to write a check list to help readers workshop writing. Late last month the first of two articles, Beta Reading as Translation, went up. Today, the companion piece, A Practical Guide to Beta Reading, is live.

The last few months with the Magic Puppies (yes, my writing is group’s name is abbreviated to ‘magic puppies’) has given me new insights into beta reading. Even so, these articles have been the hardest non-fiction I’ve written in some time: trying to quantify, qualify and then articulate what is often a gut feeling informed by time, experience and the story at hand.

Today’s article covers etiquette, basics, a six-point frame of focus for looking at problem areas and an extended list of questions that can be used by beta readers as a guide for deeper deconstruction of work or for authors to assist in constructing a beta reading brief.

From A Practical Guide to Beta Reading:

Beta reading is the truthful evaluation of a story’s effectiveness.

  • Beta reading is a request from an author for assistance to improve their story.
  • It provides the author with an overview of what is working and not working in the story.
  • It is framed as an opinion and is only one of many on the story. Adding a caveat at the bottom will reinforce this.
  • Opinion is always influenced by taste and experience. Biases need to be transparent.
  • There is no place for ego gratification or back-slapping.

You can read the full article and get the extended downloadable question guide here.

Beta Reading at Writers Bloc

betareadingI have a new article up at Writers Bloc. Over the years I’ve written quite a few articles about beta reading based mostly on my editing experience. This is the first article I’ve written while neck-deep in beta reading. The article picks apart the fundamental dynamic between the beta reader and the writer based on where the writer is poised within the development of the story. From the article…

A beta reader is a hunter of inconsistencies. At the broadest level they are looking at the context of the story and how the story fits (or doesn’t) within those parameters.

This falls into three categories where:

  1. the writer is exploring the story and is uncertain of what is in their head,
  2. the writer is certain of the story but works too hard to get the context across or is too close to the story to give meaningful context to events and motivations, or
  3. the writer has a clear picture in their head but the story demands additional details or insights originally considered inconsequential to the main story.

And how cool is the graphic? As a huge quotation fan, this fills my heart with the right kind of nerdy joy. Thank you Sam and the wonderful folk at Writers Bloc.