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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
[link]
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:iconshadowkat678:
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.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014  Professional Writer
Try asking for beta readers on your Blog. That's how I found mine.
Reply
:iconnyu-neon:
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?
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Professional Writer
I simply ask for volunteers in my blogs.
Reply
:iconroxie94:
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.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner 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:
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 fanfiction.net but you're questionnaire help a lot. 
Reply
:iconnyu-neon:
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).
Reply
:iconroxie94:
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014
thanks i didn't know that, i'll remember it 
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013  Professional Writer
Why not post on your journal Here that you're looking for a beta-reader? 
Reply
:iconroxie94:
Roxie94 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2013
thanks i'll try
Reply
:iconmandygirl78:
mandygirl78 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Another one for beta readers: Are you going to be reliable?
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Professional Writer
From my experience, Beta readers are reliable up until the moment they get Bored. That's a warning sign right there. If my Beta reader is bored enough to drop my story, something is seriously wrong with either my Content, or my writing. Usually it's my Content -- what's going on in the story.

This is why I added the questions about parts of the story Dragging, and if they Skipped anything to get to something better.
Reply
:iconmandygirl78:
mandygirl78 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
If they going to drop you like that and don't mention that they are bored, then they shouldn't be a beta in the first place. They are still a bunch of unreliable $#!#
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Professional Writer
I'm very choosy about who beta reads my stories, so I know for a fact that my beta readers are not simply unreliable. They're just plain Bored with my work.

This is why when such a thing happens to me, my first question is always: "What did I do wrong?" After all, Keeping the reader Interested is the FIRST priority of any story. If I can't keep them interested enough to beg for the next chapter, the failure is Mine -- not theirs.
Reply
:iconmandygirl78:
mandygirl78 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That's if you can beta readers that knows your story and if that are a lot of them. Otherwise, good luck, especially if your story is of a rare fanfic.

Still, if the beta-reader does not have the courtesy to tell you why they stopped beta-reading instead of ignoring you, then they should do something else, period. It's rude for them to just disappear or to not respond.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Professional Writer
Not true.
-- I not only write in some pretty obscure fandoms, my fan-fics are rarely in the same fandom. (Ever hear of Natsume YujinCho?)

The way I deal with this is by NEVER assuming my readers know the fandom I'm writing about. I write them all as though the reader is completely uninformed -- as though the story is completely original. This way any reader that finds them can enjoy them.

I already told you, if a beta reader stops responding to me, it's because my work Bored them. I simply accept this and go look for my mistakes then go find a new beta reader. Simple as that. I do NOT pass the blame to the beta reader when My Work was too boring for them to want to continue to read it.
Reply
:iconmandygirl78:
mandygirl78 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Then you should understand how hard it can be to find a beta-reader for a rare story.

I'm not talking about the regular reader. The beta-reader MUST know the fandom to be an effective beta-reader, or is willing to watch/read the fandom. If he/she isn't, then they should not be beta-reading that fanfic, period. Now I totally agree with you on never assuming my regular readers to know the fandom. I try to write like that too, but again, I'm not talking about the regular readers.

I'm sorry that you are not willing to hold your beta-reader accountable. Respect and accountability should go both ways, don't you think? It's not passing the blame for something they should be doing, since part of their job is to tell you if a story is becoming boring, or to make suggestion on how a story could be better.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Professional Writer
Then you should understand how hard it can be to find a beta-reader for a rare story.

That's not a problem for me. I have an extremely wide audience of readers to draw from BECAUSE I rarely write in the same fandom twice.

My readers expect to be able to read, and understand ANY story I write, no matter the fandom because I include all necessary background details to grasp who the characters are, and what's going on.

The beta-reader MUST know the fandom to be an effective beta-reader, or is willing to watch/read the fandom.

I'm going to have to disagree, strongly.
-- If the writer is good, the reader Won't Need to know the fandom. A well-written story can stand on it's own without any prior knowledge of the characters or the world they live in. Seriously.

If the reader gets lost or confused by what's going on in the story, it's the Writer's fault for not including enough background detail -- not the Reader's.

If your readers Need prior knowledge to enjoy your story, the story is missing Background Detail, AKA: World-building.

The ability to write a story Without the Need for any Prior knowledge, one that can stand alone, is a Necessary Skill, in fact a Foundational skill needed to write Original fiction.

Respect and accountability should go both ways, don't you think?

That's silly. The only one accountable for a story's success or failure is the Author. If the Reader didn't 'get it' the Author clearly didn't explain it well enough.

One can tell if a story is boring without any background knowledge at all because Boring happens in the writing itself, the Way it's written, not the Content.

You can have the most exciting content and characters in the world and STILL have a boring story if the writer doesn't have the necessary skills to make the writing interesting to read.

The Reverse also applies.
-- You can have the most boring content and characters in the world and STILL have an interesting story if the writer has the necessary skills to make the writing interesting to read.
Reply
:iconximneri:
XimNeri Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Mind if I "re-post" it as a guidance to my beta readers in spanish? I will give you the full credit of it, I just want them to read this to help me as beta readers.
(:
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Professional Writer
As long as you give me credit, Post Away!
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:iconximneri:
XimNeri Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!!
Reply
:iconloginithegreat:
Loginithegreat Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012
thank you very much for making this. My girlfriend wants me to be the beta reader for her upcoming stories, so this will be helpful. I write my own stuff as well, so perhaps I can use this as a guideline when reviewing my work.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Professional Writer
I'm glad you like it!
-- I made it to give to my own beta readers so that they'd know exactly what I wanted them to check.
Reply
:iconshinigaminightroad:
ShinigamiNightRoad Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2011  Student General Artist
Where do you find Beta-readers? I know of some that do fanfiction but I don't write fanfiction so it really doesn't help me much. Plus I tried using my friend as one and it didn't end well for me.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2011  Professional Writer
I get my beta readers from my Fanbase. Basically, I email some of my more enthusiastic readers and ask of they'd like to beta read a story for me.

Another way is to simply post on your journal asking for interested beta readers.
Reply
:iconshinigaminightroad:
ShinigamiNightRoad Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Student General Artist
Thanks I'll try that. :D
Reply
:iconfengfuxi26:
FengFuXi26 Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student General Artist
i totally agree with you 100% on the final statement you make about Star Wars at the end. *shakes head* Lucas, what have you done?!
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Professional Writer
ALL writers make mistakes, no matter how good they are. JarJar just happened to be his.
Reply
:iconfengfuxi26:
FengFuXi26 Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Student General Artist
true, doesn't mean he wasn't an abomination though. though, i guess you could say that if it hadn't been for Jar Jar, the original trilogy would never have happened in the first place. :shrug: eh, your mileage may vary
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2011  Professional Writer
My milage very much does vary. Jar Jar could have been left out completely without affecting the story in any way.
Reply
:iconsethian-motzart:
Sethian-Motzart Featured By Owner May 23, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
VERY useful! and I have a whole group of friends I might be able to rope in as testers for me haha!

I have to disagree on only one point on the star wars thing. I love Jar Jar.. and I'm the only one in my family who does. I have a soft spot for the idiots in the movie if they make me laugh. (Absolutly loved Rocco in Boondock Saints)
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner May 24, 2011  Professional Writer
I'm glad you liked the essay!
-- We are definitely going to disagree on Jar Jar. I have absolutely no tolerance for stupidity, AT ALL. I've never been able to laugh at it.
Reply
:iconsethian-motzart:
Sethian-Motzart Featured By Owner May 24, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
^_^ To each their own. I kind of think more of his stupidity was just accident proneness, which I have a LOT of haha, so I have to be able to laugh at it. Otherwise I'd be a very sad, cynical little clumsy fool lol.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner May 26, 2011  Professional Writer
Accident-prone is one thing, I'm accident-prone and clumsy myself. STUPID is another.
Reply
:iconnaomihansen:
NaomiHansen Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I'm a beta reader over at FFN who's very grammar-, image-, and flow-oriented, partly because on the first few times I tried to tell the people that they had issues with their plot being interesting to me (because most of my beta tasks are for people who write for the Wizard101 fandom, which has almost no original plots for the fics because they're written by kids/preteens that just go with what happens in the game), some of them had a hissy-fit at me and the rest just disrespected my opinions on the matter. Kind of sad... :(

This just makes me appreciate us beta readers even more, though. :love:
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner May 22, 2011  Professional Writer
Beta readers are VITAL to good fiction.
-- You're going to have a hard time getting anyone under 16 to take criticism, especially constructive criticism. Their brand new egos just won't allow it. Forget pre-teens, they won't listen to anyone.

Most people have a hard time believing that the work they just spent weeks if not months writing needs improvement. For those under 16, it's even harder. At that age, they're writing to please their own imaginations and to Get Attention, as in: Praise. That's ALL.

Sadly, I've run across one too many grown adults with the same attitude.

You might want to consider Interviewing those who come to you for beta reading to check if they're actually serious about improving their work. If they're not, PASS on them because all it will do is frustrate you both.

If they're serious at all about writing a good story, that ego will eventually fix itself, but that takes Time and embarrassing Mistakes. Let them make those mistakes. Let the readers flame them. Some people NEED to hit their heads on the brick wall before they'll learn.
Reply
:iconlanevicata:
LaNevicata Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011  Student Photographer
Well now I just have to find a beta-reader!

Um question I have found a few I like on Fiction-Press, but I'm not sure if there active, is there anywhere else I can find a trust worth beta reader?
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2011  Professional Writer
I wouldn't know. I use personal friends and fans for my beta readers.
Reply
:iconlanevicata:
LaNevicata Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2011  Student Photographer
Hmm alrighty.
Reply
:iconnh-cheater:
nh-cheater Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
really helpful! i'm gonna use this as a reference.
*gotta let my friends re-review my story...*
:+devwatch: :love:
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011  Professional Writer
Excellent! You should get some very insightful info from using this Questionnaire. I developed it to help me with my manuscripts and it really works.
Reply
:iconnh-cheater:
nh-cheater Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
thank! you very much
Reply
:iconjoestaro:
Joestaro Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh man this is actually very informative! Even though I'm not a beta reader, this can still help me when I'm writing :D I can link this to any beta-persons I use, yes?
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2010  Professional Writer
I'm glad you like it!

Absolutely!
-- You can copy-paste just the parts you need into an email too, if you like.
Reply
:iconjoestaro:
Joestaro Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hehe thank you! it really is helpful :D
Reply
:iconpieology:
Pieology Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Student General Artist
I have one friend who would be such a great beta-reader because he's not afraid to state his opinions. Unfortunately, he doesn't like to read at all, no matter how many times I beg him! XD He's so lazy!

I try to ask my boyfriend for his opinion, but he loves me too much to even suggest anything that he is afraid might hurt me. This is what more friends are for. >w> *giggles*

Or I just need someone who would willing give me critique. When I find that person, I will make sure they follow this questionnaire. <3
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010  Professional Writer
Use more than one per story, this way you have a 'different opinion' to work from. What doesn't seem right to one beta may be perfect in the other's eyes.
Reply
:iconforsakenprophetess:
ForsakenProphetess Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010
Lol, as much as I love Star Wars (as you can probably tell by the avatar to the left) I can't help but agree with you on the Star Wars points. Especially the AnakinxPadme romance *shivers* I always hated how Amidala degraded from a character strong and capable enough to rule a planet to a whiny wimp who seemed to exist only facilitate Anakin's angst.

Anyway, rant aside, thanks so much for this! I'm about to start beta-ing a new story, and I get the feeling I'm going to need a little extra help with it.

(Not to mention I fully intend to use it on myself later.)
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Professional Writer
I'm thrilled you liked my questionnaire!
-- Seriously, what was Lucas thinking? I'm beginning to think he really didn't know many strong women.
Reply
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