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Thursday, March 08, 2007

TT #43

Thirteen Steps in Beta-Reading
Darla's Theory of Beta-Reading

Somebody's past their deadline, which means I've been doing a lot of this lately. Since it's on my mind, I thought it would make a quick Thursday Thirteen.

Beta reading
: reading a work of fiction with a critical eye--offering constructive criticism--before the book is turned over to the publisher. In this case, I'm reading a chapter at a time, shortly after they're written.

  1. Read chapter through once without taking notes. I mostly focus on content, mood, and pacing.
  2. Start email to self with "Like," "Dislike," "Comments," and "Nits & Typos" headings.
  3. Copy chapter to word processor, change the font, and fix the formatting (make the lines wrap). Often involves a partial re-read.
  4. Do a spell-check and note any errors on the critique email. Save as draft.
  5. Print out a hard copy of the chapter.
  6. Paste chapter in an email to self in yet another font and send.
  7. Read hard copy in another room with pencil in hand, make notes on hard copy. This read focuses more on continuity and logic.
  8. Transcribe notes from hard copy to critique email. Save as draft. This generally involves a partial re-reading of the chapter as well.
  9. Print preview the email copy of the chapter in a new window.
  10. Read chapter aloud, making comments in the critique email. This one focuses on the flow of the words and how the dialogue sounds. It's also when I find most word transpositions and grammatical errors.
  11. Proof-read critique email, adding or changing comments as necessary.
  12. Copy and paste critique email categories into form and send.
  13. Read other beta readers' comments and respond as necessary.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

  1. Things Gattina can't forget
  2. Susan Helene Gottfried: Daylight Saving Time
  3. Carmen's new digs
  4. Christine: happy
  5. Joan: inspirational quotes
  6. Friday's Child: friendship
  7. Thomma Lyn's favorite paintings
  8. what Wacky Mommy's figured out
  9. Raggedy: too much coffee?
  10. Caylynn: endometriosis
  11. Angela/SciFiChick: Patrick Stewart
  12. Nancy: random
  13. Candy Minx: books
  14. Tink: cat quotes
  15. Julia: blogs
  16. Annie: childhood memories
  17. QTPies7: embarrassing your children
  18. Kristarella's tired
  19. Spyscribbler: a successful debut
  20. Caryle's cooking
  21. names for Dragonheart
  22. Doug's instruments of torture
  23. authors Kate R has discovered online
  24. You're next!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




pffft, I get dizzy with all what you intend to do ! What a list !

I really had to laugh about your comment on my blog where you said that Germans asked you keeping your appliances outside on the porch in America. Not a bad idea at all. It's sometimes crazy what people are believing !
LOL--one of these days, I'm going to have to do a TT about the crazy misconceptions I've heard from people on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm sure I've heard dozens, if not more. The problem is remembering them.

Like the woman who said we should keep a close eye on our son when he was little, because Germans would kidnap blond haired-blue eyed little boys.

Off to go start a list. LOL
You are the best type of beta reader. I try to do those when I'm reading chapters for other people, but it depends on their level. I don't want to scare the new writer so I usually do it in phases. It helps focus them. :)

Awesome list. :)
Wow, that's extensive. And time-consuming. And thorough.

I think after seeing this, I'd be scared to have you beta read for me!
Re: Your comment - visit anytime! I now have a whole guest room. :)

I should send you my manuscript to edit. :)
LOL, well, I do try to be nice, so there's plenty of gushing along with the criticism.

And I'm only that thorough if that's what the author asks for. I do love beta-reading, though--it's like being a roadie for a rock band. :)
Exposing my ignorance here: I don't really know what beta-reading is, but it sounds like just my "thing". I enjoyed reading this and wondering about it. My TT is also posted.
Joan, whoops. You can tell I'm used to a narrow world. Thanks for reminding me to clarify it a little.
Thanks for coming by my blog too. I intend to investigate beta reading. You've done a teacher's job today - inspired someone to search for knowledge. Thanks, Teach!
That was a good one. Thanks for the visit and your lovely comment.
Wow, you sound like an excellent Beta reader, and I know the writers you help appreciate it! :)

Happy TT, and thank you for visiting my blog.
I am sure your writers appreciate you. You sure put a lot of work in and you sound very thorough.
Great list.
Happy TT
Very cool! Beta-reading sounds interesting, but it is clearly a lot of work! You obviously know what you're doing and it sounds like you do a thorough job.

Thanks for stopping by and have a good day!
Wow, sounds like fun.. compared to my fulltime job.. LOL
What a lot of love and work you put into your book. And, it sounds like fun!
I found this subject so interesting. Iwas very surprisd\ed at the format you use by the email and by separating the sections into typos and "like" etc.

I've read a dozen or so manuscripts for novels for friends and it is a delicate job. Yet, being honest may help the novel be a better book. I also found I noted when a writer had used a word several times...like an unusual word...just more as a question...did you intend to be reititious how does that effect the mood of the book etc.

How I also related to this post Darla, was that I've ghost written scripts. Reading them, adding some links between ideas that are just wisps in the script but perhpas should be more played out. For example...I ghost wrote a script about stand up comedians...and one of them was a woman who had a hand puppet in her act and her boyfriend hated her having this hand puppet in her act. I rewrote the character to have had "intimate" feelings for his girlfriends puppet.

Sometimes a writer is touching on a subject but is afraid to go to it and sometimes I will suggest the old adage "go big or go home" kind of idea.

Sounds like great work you are doing...I have a few freinds who edit for university disertations and small publishers as a part time job. I've always thought about ddoing that except I am a terrible speller!

Fun post
Wow, that's a lot of work! It sounds interesting though.
Thanks for visiting my cat quotes TT!
Darla - I know you are a great Beta reader, no doubt about it! I'm sure the people you Beta Read for appericate all the work you done :)

Happy Thursday Thirteen! Here is Mine!
You're so thorough! I don't know that I have the patience to do all of that.

Happy TT!
I love reading books, and I'm pretty funny about errors in a published book, but that is wayyyy to much work for me! I want to enjoy the book, and its thanks to people like you that I can do that! Thanks!
I found 13 ways to embarass my kids!
I've never heard the term "beta reader". Now I know what they do, what is it that you are reading though?
Wow, that's amazing! I can't believe all that you do! I don't think I even do that much for myself. I kinda got lost in all that!

Your readees are lucky!
Happy TT!
I've just started doing some beta-reading, but I'm much more of the "this is what I liked, and this is what didn't work quite as well" reader at this point. That works well, in this case, because that's really all this writer wants from me. :)

I'm sure as time progresses, I'll develop my own method of madness and torture. Hee!
That sounds like a lot of work! The authors must appreicate how thorough you are!

Thanks for visiting!
Wow. Now that's dedication.

So what image got to you over at my place?
HEY, I didn't know you did beta reading. Hmmmmm HMMMMMM. You do it for cold hard cash or what? hmm.
Mostly out of the goodness of my heart, and for the glory.... uh... Oh, yeah, for the cash, right! Yeah. Cash. Lots of it. :) LOL
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