1. erebh

    erebh Contributor Contributor

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    advice for proof reader/beta reader/editor

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by erebh, Apr 19, 2013.

    ok guys, my wife is going to review my first 10 chapters, 60000 words.

    Any advice for her? What is she looking for?

    How do you think she should read it? As a customer? A critic? An editor?

    What am I looking for? Outright criticism? What would help me most?

    Thanks
     
  2. Trish

    Trish Lost.. got any breadcrumbs I can follow? Supporter Contributor

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    If I were you I would have her try to look for spelling and punctuation errors, continuity, etc. If she's good at that sort of thing (grammar and punctuation). Otherwise (and as well as) I would have her write down anything that is confusing to her, anything that makes her go back in the story for clarification, and anything that pulls her out of the story. She just needs to be honest. Then, go back two days (or more) later and ask a few things about it (offhand) and see what she still remembers (names, places, things that happened). This will give you some idea of whether or not the book is memorable and what things to change or rearrange.

    There will probably be a lot of people who will tell you that family should never beta for you, but I disagree entirely. Even if they sugarcoat things, if they can't remember your characters name three days later - you know you have a problem.

    Best of luck!
     
  3. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

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    It really depends on what you want and what she likes -- is she a big reader? Does she read the genre you write? From my husband I mostly just wanted to know if the story was at least a little bit interesting, and whether it flowed okay and made sense, seemed believable, etc. He almost never reads novels, so it was hard to get an info out of him.
     
  4. erebh

    erebh Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah it is her genre, she loves it, is the reason I wrote it - her dare, her bet, her challenge.

    Going back to Trish - If she's too wrapped up looking for errors, will it tarnish her enjoyment of the piece?

    Do you guys think she should read it as paying customer first, give me feedback on storylines and characters and then go through it for typos etc?
     
  5. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

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    In that case, I'd say yes - as a reader who is in your target audience. She can point out any typos, etc. if she sees them, but anybody can do that. What's more valuable is someone who can compare your story to others in your genre.
     
  6. Trish

    Trish Lost.. got any breadcrumbs I can follow? Supporter Contributor

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    No, it really shouldn't. If she's a reader, they'll be glaring. Those things will irritate her, and she'll automatically notice them. I know lots of readers (not writers) who are just as critical as we are as writers. My best beta for the book I just published was my best friend. He was honest (we've been friends long enough he's not afraid of hurting my feelings - though that should never be an issue), and called me every time something took him out of the story. My non-friend betas weren't nearly as helpful.

    If she needs to separate the two things, she should do continuity, story lines, and characters first so she doesn't get caught up the second time around (if she's prone to that), though I've never had a beta have to separate them. Usually you just want them to tell you what they've noticed, on all of it. At least I do, anyway.
     
  7. Jhunter

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Have her read it just like she would any other book. Then have her tell you her honest opinion. Then after that drill her with whatever questions you have. But first, get her honest opinion after she reads it without an agenda.
     
  8. Jhunter

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Agreed.
     
  9. Trilby

    Trilby Contributor Contributor

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    Could you possibly persuade her to read it twice.

    First, as a reader - did it pull her in? was it a page turner? did she find it to be an enjoyable read? would she recommend it to a friend?

    Second reading, as an editor - punctuation/grammar etc.



    Reassure her, that if she gives you a honest unbiased opinion - you won't finish up in the divorce courts;)
     
  10. Krishan

    Krishan Active Member

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    I would, personally, opt for asking her to read as a reader. That is, after all, what your readers will be doing. I'm sure you can handle the spelling, punctuation and grammar bits yourself, but you can't step outside your mind and see the story with fresh eyes.

    It might be worth emphasising to her that her honest, unvarnished opinion is okay with you. Family members will often say what they think you want to hear, rather than what they genuinely thought.
     

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