There’s much to be said about Beta reads, and in my opinion, none of it is bad! The first time I had a REAL GOOD beta read completed on a manuscript of my own, I was absolutely blown away! This reader was amazing!! She helped me take my own writing style and transform it from a C to a A- (then the final rounds of revisions and edits brought it to an A+!) This woman is a saint, teetering the edge of genius.
All the Beta readers I’ve had before her were in no way as professional. They read the entire book and then pointed out a few plot points that could be improved on. They gave honest opinions about characters, and about certain scenes that could use a little bit of work. This does help, because all criticism HELPS. I’ll take any and every opinion I can squeeze out of a reader, its imperative in order to improve and incorporate fixes before publication. But, once I worked with this almighty woman of wonders, my opinion on Beta flipped. I put the entire process of Beta Reading on a pedestal, and I’m sure it will remain there for the duration of my writing career!
Here are a just few things my favorite Beta Reader does that makes her the best!
- My work is broken down sentence by sentence. She points out how often I use ‘ing’ and ‘said’ and ‘he’s, she’s’. Replacement words and phrases are always offered in a nice complimenting way when I overuse irritating mundane words and/or references.
- Describing emotions rather than stating them is sometimes a weakness for me. This particular Beta Reader points out each time I say words like “angry” or “happy” She offers suggestions on describing body language and/or facial expressions that describe the characters emotions and paints a much clearer picture.
- My Beta Reader is the master of dialogue. She breaks down each and every conversation, making sure the flow is perfected, and that every part of it is grammatically accurate. Even slang has a certain approach.
- She catches any over abundance of short choppy sentences. When ever I have a paragraph that reads too much like a list, my Beta pounces right on it without missing a beat! The said paragraph is cut apart and she gives several options for changes so that I can toy with it and make proper changes in my own words and with my own style later on.
- Time lines! A good Beta reader double checks on the time line of your plot to make sure that the characters aging matches perfect. Months, seasons, days, and even weeks should match up. Some timeline details can be tedious and easily mixed up. As the writer we are often times to close to the story. Paying close attention to timeline details is imperative.
- One great thing about my Beta Reader is that she absolutely hates stereotypical, racists, bigots, and sexists. Often times as writers, we can explain people and situations in ways that may be offensive without intending to. Sometimes we don’t even realize that our words can be so easily misconstrued. We may have pure intentions and clean hearts but your readers can perceive it differently. The hardest character I’ve ever written was actually racist. As much as I hated painting her that way, it was imperative in the diversity of her personality. (she wasn’t a victim, or a killer, but she had to knowingly fit somewhere in between. She had to be secretly dark spirited and a phony, yet on the surface she was confident in ways that made her likeable.) Writing her as a slight racist was a fine line that I went ahead and risked walking because at the end of the day it pulled the storyline together. My Beta reader helped me SO much with this difficult situation. I wanted my character to show this disgusting side of herself without it reflecting on myself, or making me out to be something that I am most definitely not. I couldn’t over do it, or under do it! I was walking a tight rope and my Beta Reader gave me my balance I needed in order to make it from one side to the other without tipping.
Can I just say again that I LOVE my Beta Reader?!?! If you can ever find a Beta Reader that follows through with all of these things then keep them!! Pay them, praise them, and by all means KEEP them for your own!! Honestly I would sell my soul to this woman!!