An Introduction to Beta Reading
One way to sharpen your skills as a reader is to do so voraciously. After all, it’s possible to overcome an early inability to read when you were younger. Read widely and read deeply. This helps develop your voice as a writer and helps you know what to look for whenever someone asks you to read their writing. This task is called beta reading, and it’s where you offer feedback based on what you read.
What Exactly Is It?
If friends or family members ask you to do some beta reading for you, you need to be honest and unafraid to give your opinion. Although copyediting is helpful, it’s much more important that you catch errors or mistakes that the writer didn’t notice. Also, the point is to give feedback on what you see on the page. That way, the writer feels more confident about what they’ve done before shopping it to publishers or look to self-publish their book or short story collection.
Make notes as you go along. Doing this allows you to gather your thoughts and not mix-up events, characters, and what you thought made sense or didn’t make sense at the moment as you go about it; you might not remember later on.
Review The First Chapter
The first chapter of any book is enormously important. Even a nonfiction book is going to tell a story. That narrative needs to get off to a good start. When beta reading, pay particular attention to the first chapter, even if it is a prologue.
Give Positive Feedback
Part of giving positive feedback is commenting on what you did like and what you didn’t. If there is anything that didn’t make sense to you, turn that into a question you can ask the writer.
Ask New Questions
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask new questions relating to the book that you are beta reading. This can point out to the writer something that didn’t connect from a reader’s point of view. Plus, it can help inspire the writer, and inspire you as well – especially if you write and haven’t been feeling the muse speaking to you lately.
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