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Submitted on
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

- 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...

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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Shadowkat678 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I have trouble finding Betas. I write Fanfiction and all the Beta profiles mix and mash together. There's no organization so it's hard to look for one that's active in the first place. Then, when you do, it's almost impossible to tell if they'll be good or not.
Nyu-Neon Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Just wondering, how can you find a reliable beta-reader? Is it simple as finding it through experience?
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Professional Writer
I simply ask for volunteers in my blogs.
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013
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.
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013  Professional Writer 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.
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013
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 but you're questionnaire help a lot. 
Nyu-Neon Featured By Owner 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).
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014
thanks i didn't know that, i'll remember it 
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013  Professional Writer
Why not post on your journal Here that you're looking for a beta-reader? 
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2013
thanks i'll try
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