Wiki defines it as: is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described as "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public."
So the beta is the second (or third or fourth or fifth) person to see how well you've put on paper the story that's been in your mind. Ever wonder who the alpha reader is? You, the writer.
The scariest thing I ever did was let another human being see my story. She was a coworker. Her input was really basic. If I entertained her, I succeeded. She liked it, and I was encouraged, but I realized I needed a bit more detail in the feedback.
I read in Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy about having a Wise Reader. When I sent further edits of my manuscript, I included this summary of Card's description:
What the beta is not:
- Trained in literature
- Needed to tell me how to fix the story. I need to figure that out. (So no diagnosis or what’s wrong or prescriptions)
- Were you ever bored or found your mind wandering (tell me where)
- What do you think of the characters? Who do you like? Who do you not like? (Why to both the above)
- Was there anything you didn’t understand?Did you get confused anywhere? Did you have to read any section twice?
- Was there anything you didn’t believe? Any time you said, “Oh, come on!”
- What are you still wondering about?
|My Online Critique Group|
What do you ask of your betas?
Do you ever have those times when what you really just need is encouragement?
If so, how do you let your beta know that?