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.

Write Anything Column this Week

My Write Anything column Second Draft Tips explores the ways in which a writer can move from first draft to second draft.  Included in the article are ideas on how to cull 10% of the content (as per Stephen King’s formulae) and shifting from the writer’s frame of mind to an editor’s.

For those who enjoy podcasts, Paul Anderson has shared his experiences of being critiqued and rewriting in Write, Revise, Repeat in audio.  It includes Paul’s short story  from the Kingston Readers Festival Micro Story Competition 2009in first draft and final draft forms.  For anyone who hasn’t heard Paul read his stories – it is well worth the experience.