the delphic expanse

Doing the beta thing

Here's general open information about the writing workshops we offer here. You can announce your intention to workshop a fic or open a for everyone's eyes discussion. Fics are workshopped in the private workshop forum. You can also look for a beta reader and discuss betaing issues here.

Doing the beta thing

Postby EntAllat » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:04 pm

We've had a few threads on this subject before:

Beta reader? Proof reader? WTF?

Checklist for Beta Readers (and Authors)

Most things I found after googling a bit were for authors seeking a beta and then how to ask and what to expect:
Part One: Beta Reading & You
Part Two: Establishing Expectations

In fact, this was the only thing I could find that gave advice on how to be a good beta:
How to Beta Read

Has anyone else ever come across other resources directed at betas? And what do you think of the suggestions in that "How to Beta Read"? I almost never read the work twice. I react (via track changes in MS Word) as I'm reading.
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Re: Doing the beta thing

Postby jespah » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:29 pm

I also don't read twice. Ain't nobody got time for that.

The article seems to be directed at people who've never beta'd before, and I suppose that's its focus, so fine. But a lot of it was either kind of obvious (e. g. learn what the terms mean, don't take stuff personally).

It did not go into what is probably a better means of critiquing, which is the ole shit sandwich. E. g. more or less pleasant stuff to start, harder stuff in the middle, pleasant at the end. Not to damn with faint praise or lie, but to not tear someone a new one. A beta reader who is too harsh is just going to make someone dig their heels in all the more.

I would also suggest appealing to an authority if necessary. Grammar Girl or the Chicago Manual of Style, that sort of thing. I recently did this with a guy on Wattpad - sent him a link to an article on dialogue tags.

If a work is really dreadful, I usually tell someone I am not the audience for the piece. I mean, unless it's out and out plagiarism, it's somebody's baby. I also try to find something to latch onto. For another Wattpadder, I really didn't like how clichéd a story felt, but I did like a supporting character. I suggested a second story featuring that character, who was a lot more original and was created well.

PS This is more about how to work with a beta reader if you're the writer (in the interests of full disclosure, I wrote this post):
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Re: Doing the beta thing

Postby Cap'n Frances » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:19 pm

I thought the "How to Beta Read" article was helpful. Reading twice would be great, but it might take too much time, especially with a longer work.

I just got back from a 5 day "Creative Writing Sampler" at Kripalu Center with Heather Sellers. Heather is a creative writing professor at a university in Florida. The sampler is based on the course she teaches her undergraduate students. That sounds really dull, but Heather makes it a lot of fun, and I learned a lot.

We didn't do typical writing workshop critiques. We read some of our work to a small group. The listeners were asked to make comments that were specific, positive and true. Then the writer could ask specific questions. That process was easier to do and more helpful than I expected. In the Q&A session we had right before we left, Heather recommended Liz Lerman's book on critical response process. Ms. Lerman is a choreographer but the process is supposed to work for feedback "on anything you make from dance to dessert." I just found it on Amazon. I've only read a few paragraphs so far, but it sounds like it might be helpful to beta readers. If it is, I'll post more about that.
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