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February 1, 2010
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Anyone who writes with the intent to be read by the public, from the brand-name published authors to the fan-fiction scribbler, will tell you that a good Beta Reader is worth their weight in GOLD.

So, what is a Beta Reader really FOR?

Most Beta Readers look for obvious grammar boo-boos and glaring spelling errors, but the really good ones look at your story as a whole and tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can adjust them.

These are what I ask MY Beta readers to check.
-- Whether you're a Writer looking to check your work or a Beta Reader who wants to point out a few things to your favorite writer, feel free to borrow, spindle, and mutilate this list of questions to your heart's desire.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MY Beta-Reader's Questionnaire
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is it BORING?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Does any part of the story Drag?
- Are their parts that you skipped to get to 'the good part'?
- Do I over-inform anywhere? (Also known as Info-Dumping.)

Did you Get it?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Did you understand every phrase / term I used?
- If someone unfamiliar with this Fandom read this, have I explained enough for them to understand WHY everything was happening?
-!- Did I forget to mention that someone was demon-possessed, half angelic, or had mystical powers?

Love Scenes?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Do any of the love scenes seem overly cliché? (Or overly sappy?)
- Were the love scenes too fast, too slow, or too frequent?
- Did you have to reread any part of the love scenes to understand who was doing what to whom?
- Did the actions and positions flow smoothly from one to the next, or did they jump as though something was skipped?
- Did it make you hot?
-!- Was your Comfort-Zone line crossed? (Did any actions in the love scene make you cringe?)

Do the scenes FLOW?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Does one scene lead logically into the next?
- Is there enough downtime between intense scenes to allow it to build to the next?
- Were the Flashbacks smoothly integrated to fit into the current scene -- or did they seem plopped in, like a chapter that was in the wrong place?
- Do I repeat whole scenes that Don't need to be repeated?
- Was there a nice clean scene-break or chapter break between each change in point of view?

Is anything VISUALLY Confusing?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Can you SEE every action clearly in your mind like a movie?
- Could you SEE what the characters looked like clearly?
- Could someone who was Not familiar with the fandom SEE what the characters looked like clearly?
- If you went there in real life, would you recognize the location?
- Did you have to reread any part of the action sequences to understand who did what?
-!- Did I forget to describe their Clothes, their Hair, their Eyes, any other distinctive feature that pertains to a specific character?

During DIALOGUE scenes?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Could you see what the characters were DOING while talking?
- Could you see WHERE the characters were while talking?

Did the Characters WORK?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
- Do the characters ACT realistic?
- Does the Dialogue sound realistic?
- Do their Reactions seem logical & realistic?
- Could you feel the Emotions between the characters?
- Did the characters seem IN CHARACTER?
- Did the characters with mystical powers USE them in the story?
-!- Would Original characters have worked better for this story?

- What character did you like best and WHY?
- What character did you hate and WHY?
- What character got on your nerves and WHY?
- Does any one character get in the way of the STORY?
- Was there a character that would have made the story Better by being Left Out?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The answers to these burning questions will keep your fiction crisp, focused and Popular. If your Beta readers like it then loads of other people will too.

I still think that if George Lucas had used a few test readers for those last three Star Wars movies, the scenes with Aniken as a child would have been much shorter--and made more sense. Jar Jar Binks would never have appeared. The romance between Aniken and Amidala would have been a Romance, and the clone war would have been a frikkin clone War. But that's just MY opinion...

Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Ookami Kasumi
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:iconnyu-neon:
Nyu-Neon Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Just wondering, how can you find a reliable beta-reader? Is it simple as finding it through experience?
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Jan 4, 2014  Professional Writer
I simply ask for volunteers in my blogs.
Reply
:iconroxie94:
This helps so much cause i was wondering about beta-readers for a while now that i'm starting to get in the fanfic world. Quick question do you think that a beta-reader should be asked before or after publishing a story ?  And for the story with more chapters ?
Thanks in advance.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Dec 2, 2013  Professional Writer
...do you think that a beta-reader should be asked before or after publishing a story?
Before -- always Before publishing.  The idea is to catch all the mistakes Before you post. I have my work checked During the writing process, chapter by chapter.
Reply
:iconroxie94:
thanks for answering me, i'm still a little confused about the all beta reader stuff and i'm not really sure how to ask for one on fanfiction.net but you're questionnaire help a lot. 
Reply
:iconnyu-neon:
Nyu-Neon Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually, you can hit the BETA tab on top of the fanfiction page. You can look for general beta-readers(where they accept an entire category) or specif beta-readers (where they choose to beta read a certain subcategory such as Naruto).
Reply
:iconroxie94:
thanks i didn't know that, i'll remember it 
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Dec 3, 2013  Professional Writer
Why not post on your journal Here that you're looking for a beta-reader? 
Reply
:iconroxie94:
thanks i'll try
Reply
:iconmandygirl78:
mandygirl78 Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Another one for beta readers: Are you going to be reliable?
Reply
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