Monday, December 30, 2013

Beta Reading -- Not An Easy Task

Beta reading, we all know, is an essential thing when you've written a novel and you're worried it's not ready to publish.

But it's not an easy thing, being a beta reader.

I just finished beta reading a 400-page fantasy novel for a friend of mine. I enjoyed it. At least I think I did. The process of beta reading is enlightening to a writer, as we're more aware of the mechanics of stories and how good stories go together. But at the same time, we're more attuned to what we like and what we don't like, and telling the author this while being honest and wanting to help.

It's more than spelling errors and such, obviously.

It's pointing out where the story is lagging, bogging down, making it tougher to read. And it's also measuring praise where it's needed and deserved, to balance things out.

On top of it all, you have to remember to read for the pleasure of it. For the story. For the fun. Because if you don't do that, you don't know much about the book at all.

So it's obvious what has to be done: I have to read it again. And that may be the key to beta reading: Not spreading it out over as many readers as possible, but giving a smaller group of readers the time to read your novel more than once. More than twice, per preference, so they can read once for mechanics and the other time for pleasure.

That's something I'll keep in mind when I send a novel of my own out for beta reading.

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