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Lounge: OPEN, please come in... > Beta Reading Advice Needed

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message 1: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (JanelleB) | 703 comments Hi everyone, I'm hoping that you will be able to give me some advice about beta reading. My son is writing a series of books and is hoping to have the first book ready for beta reading soon.
He's looking to me to advise him as to whether or not the book is ready for new eyes, and I'm not sure what to tell him. The book is still a little rough; he's inclined to be wordy and at times his writing is a little immature and stiff.
How polished should his book be before it goes to beta readers?
He's planning on sending it to his readers next month, and hopes to publish at the end of the year.
Thanks for any advice.

message 2: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1752 comments As a writer, I advise you to be tactfully honest with your son and tell him some version of what you've said here. It does me no good when someone close to me reads something of mine and refuses to offer any critique.
I think a piece should go through a few drafts before being presented to other eyes. Maybe he should let it sit for a few days before looking through it again. Sometimes it helps to look at one's own work in sections, even out of order. Because the author knows what it should say, but that might not be exactly what's on the page. Also, be sure to run it through spell and grammar check. Have it looking as professional as possible before presenting it to critiquers.

message 3: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (JanelleB) | 703 comments Thanks for your advice, Nicole. From what you have said, his book needs to be fairly polished before it goes beta.
He is currently working through the third draft of this book. He started writing while he was a teenager, and it's been a long slow process of learning writing skills. After spending so much time on his books, he's eager to share it with others.
I did point out to him some areas in his writing that will need to be improved before it goes beta, and he was very responsive to that. I feel it would probably encourage him to have others take a look at it. Even though his writing is still rough, his plot is terrific, and he's been working on it for such a long time. I don't know who he has lined up as beta readers. But I suspect they are less able critiquers than most beta readers. Perhaps they
would be better termed as alpha readers.
Thank you for your input. You have confirmed my thoughts. However, even though it is rough, with some adjustments, I think I will encourage him to share it. He's only 22 and has worked very hard on his writing. He has much further to go on his road to publication than he realises, and perhaps sharing it with a few people now will help him persist until he is ready for a polished presentation.

message 4: by Charly (new)

Charly | 3439 comments Even though he is anxious to have it read, perhaps the best thing might be to put it aside for a period of time and then read it as if he were doing the beta read.

message 5: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (JanelleB) | 703 comments He has already done that, Charly. He hired a friend to do some editing, and didn't look at it for several months. Now he's doing a revision himself while he's on break from college.
I've only read the prologue and two chapters of his current revision. I've told him I don't want to read it again until he's finished. Hopefully reading his book as a whole, rather than in piecemeal as he finishes writing/editing a chapter, will give me a clearer picture of his writing.
He's always had trouble with the first few chapters; I suspect things will improve as the book progresses.

message 6: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1752 comments Janelle, it's good that he's able to take some criticism. Maybe he is about ready to have some people look at it. Sometimes the only way the writing improves is after being put out there and getting feedback from critiquers (I'm using the old school writing workshop word) and finding out what they think works and what doesn't work for them. Generally, it's good to remember that the writer doesn't have to address all criticisms--but if several people (or everyone who reads it) criticizes the same thing, they probably have a point. But if readers are honest and trying to be constructive, there is no way every single one of them will declare the piece of writing perfect.

message 7: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (JanelleB) | 703 comments I agree with you, Nicole. I think the readers he's sharing with will function less as beta readers and more as early critiquers. He does need more feedback and he needs encouragement as the road to publication is much longer and more difficult than he realises.
His writing isn't perfect, but it's come a long way. It really just needs tightening up and some tweaks. But he's still learning the skills to do so. Hopefully he will get some tips on this. He has great potential, he's just not quite there yet.

message 8: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 1752 comments Let us know how this goes! I think writing is a lifelong endeavor, always with room for improvement somewhere.

message 9: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (JanelleB) | 703 comments Very true Nicole. Will do!

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