Beta Reading

Recently, I was asked by a friend, let’s call him J, to read his story for him as a Beta reader. I’ve done beta reading before – changed some minor grammar issues – commented so, I like to say that I know what I’m doing. Plus the last 60 or so hours of college was all about reading, editing, and commenting on classmates’ work. I have experience under my belt. 

There are a few things I have to keep in mind when I read over someone else’s work.

1. I read through it first.

I like to take it all in before I start to analyze a story. Mostly because if I’m confused on something and I comment on it but later the information is there then, I made a mistake. I also think its nice to just read a story and think about it afterwards.

2. Use a red pen.

Normally when I print a story out then, I tend to use a red pen. There’s nothing special about a red pen, in essence, but it helps me get into the mindset of editor.y job is to look for grammacial errors, minor mispelled words, ect. 

3. Be honest but don’t be mean.

There’s a fine line between disliking something and being mean. At least that’s my opinion. In my comments, I’m honest. If I think something is cliche, I say it. However, I also include suggestions on how to fix or change whatever bothers me or I think needs to be changed. 

4. With a grain of salt

I always tell the author  to take my advice with a grain of salt. Ultimately, it is up to him/her to decide what theu want to change or keep. All I can do is tell him/her about my thoughts on their story. It also helps if the author has a lot if beta readers so if there’s an issue everyone notices then that issue should be worked on.

5. Track changes.

MS Word has an awesome button called track changes. I like this because the author can see what I have changed and kept. Google Docs and I believe Drive also have a feature that let’s you see changes. This way, the author can knownwhat was changed without having to compare the documents side by side. 

Lastly, my opinions and advice are my own. I don’t feel offended if an author disagrees with my comments. I’m just glad that they were willing to let me read their story.  

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