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View Full Version : As a Beta Reader which do you prefer...?



LOG
11-02-2009, 12:59 AM
Do you simply note the errors in a manuscript as you read it, and then leave the author to correct them. Or do acitvely fix them as you go along.

I'm trying to decide which modus operandi to go with, especially when I'm proofreading a manuscript that displays the same problem consistently.

Parametric
11-02-2009, 01:10 AM
I'm assuming you mean actual errors, like typos or whatever, rather than subjective problems like characterisation.

Actually fixing them yourself would be logistically awkward, I think. The author won't be able to see every mistake you've fixed unless they use the compare/contrast function in Word to compare your version to the master document. And if they made any edits to their master document, they can't just take yours and use it as the new master - they have to hunt down every single mistake and mirror the changes in the master document. Sounds like a lot of work for both parties.

My vote is for neither noting every instance of, nor fixing every, consistent mistake. Just tell the author that they're consistently mixing up you're/your and leave it up to them to make the changes.

sydney
11-02-2009, 04:13 AM
You CAN fix things and have others see them. When I do a line-by-line beta, that's exactly what I do. There's an editing/reviewing/tracking changes feature in Word. It crosses out things you delete, changes appear in different colors, and your author can keep your corrections or ignore them with a click of a button. You can also add comments on the side.

My MO is to make all the corrections--I'd change every "your" to "you're", etc. But that's just me :D

Mr Flibble
11-02-2009, 04:20 AM
I use track changes - but I only correct obvious typos and / or homophones such as their / there

For everything else I pop in a note in track changes. This sentence feels awkward, or is confusing etc. It's not for me to make the change, because the writer is free to disregard every comment I make, plus it'd be my voice then, not theirs. I might make a suggestion in the note as to what I think would work better. That's about it.

A beta is for commenting IMO, not for rewriting. That's the writer's job.

charlotte49ers
11-02-2009, 04:34 AM
You CAN fix things and have others see them. When I do a line-by-line beta, that's exactly what I do. There's an editing/reviewing/tracking changes feature in Word. It crosses out things you delete, changes appear in different colors, and your author can keep your corrections or ignore them with a click of a button. You can also add comments on the side.

My MO is to make all the corrections--I'd change every "your" to "you're", etc. But that's just me :D

I change colors, but I didn't know I could get Word to do it for me! I learn something new every day. :)

Adam
11-02-2009, 04:43 AM
I use the note feature in Word/Openoffice for everything, whether it's a spelling mistake or something major. :)

Lainey Bancroft
11-02-2009, 04:46 AM
I use track changes - but I only correct obvious typos and / or homophones such as their / there

For everything else I pop in a note in track changes. This sentence feels awkward, or is confusing etc. It's not for me to make the change, because the writer is free to disregard every comment I make, plus it'd be my voice then, not theirs. I might make a suggestion in the note as to what I think would work better. That's about it.

A beta is for commenting IMO, not for rewriting. That's the writer's job.


This! :)

sydney
11-02-2009, 04:49 AM
I change colors, but I didn't know I could get Word to do it for me! I learn something new every day. :)

:D


I just wanted to say...

Just because you change a sentence doesn't mean it'll be in your voice. I guess it depends on who you are and how you work, but when I change a sentence, it's mostly about switching things around. And additions mostly deal with articles, not adjectives. If there's a big problem and I feel I can't fix it without implementing my voice, I'll make a note.

Rowan
11-02-2009, 05:33 AM
If I'm doing line-by-line editing, I use the "strikethrough" feature and make my suggestions in red text. I also insert any notes or comment in [red] so they're easy to find. I wouldn't call it re-writing but it's an easy way to rework an awkward sentence (a suggestion) OR I will insert a comment like, [This is awkward: consider .... ] I also insert comments if it's just a general "note" using Word's "Insert Comment" feature.

Hope that answers your question.

~*Kate*~
11-02-2009, 05:53 AM
If I'm doing line-by-line editing, I use the "strikethrough" feature and make my suggestions in red text. I also insert any notes or comment in [red] so they're easy to find. I wouldn't call it re-writing but it's an easy way to rework an awkward sentence (a suggestion) OR I will insert a comment like, [This is awkward: consider .... ] I also insert comments if it's just a general "note" using Word's "Insert Comment" feature.

Hope that answers your question.

I do the same thing, pretty much word for word. I might suggest something to illustrate my point but I don't rewrite things for people. The track edits feature in Word makes me crazy so I do it the hard way. Sometimes I change the size and/or font of my comments to make things more legible.

Unless, of course, the author has asked for something else, like an opinion on one specific problem (voice, etc.).

Herman Munster
11-02-2009, 03:55 PM
Do you simply note the errors in a manuscript as you read it, and then leave the author to correct them. Or do acitvely fix them as you go along.

I'm trying to decide which modus operandi to go with, especially when I'm proofreading a manuscript that displays the same problem consistently.

I haven't read your other replies but wanted to jump right in here.
I am thinking that you are confusing or mixing the beta and editor roles.
I am far from an expert or experienced but i have a feeling one of the very first thing a professional editor told me was that he refused point balnk to rewrite my errors. When he sent me the first bunch of errors, one was a biggie and right at the beginning. According to his knowledge and experience what i proposed as a course of action was wrong. Fully. Completely.
It is a military thing, he has 21 years, retired, as a marine. I proposed that subordinates snuck intot he hero's house and "pounced" on him to wake hm from an acknowledged deep sleep.
He said that very very wrong.
In the first place waking an unarmed combat specialist by getting close to him, within striking range was close to suicide and one bone was certain to be broken at the very least, someone might actually be killed. He said that to wake such a person, or someone like him, it was best to approach as noisey as possible and if sound was possible, front lines etc, then you would kick his foot and leap back 6 feet as a minmum. Once he was awake or semi conscious then you might start quiet voice communications.

So with this glaring fault and appreciating his knowledge and actual experience, nothing to do with his editing ability, I said "Please go ahead and rewrite that apssage as it shoudl be". He repleid quickly and aid "NO!" in a big way.
He siad that it would not be in my "voice" and that I had a "voice" which was a high compliment and not sicphantic in anyway. he said should he write it, then it ould be in voice not mine and that would be instantly recognisable to any experienced reader, the two would be seen as very different and they would be confused at the kleast, annoyed and throw the book away at worst.

Tjis was the first age, the first poaragraph and scene. To insult and assault a reader in such a manner he said could cripple my name as a writer and wreck any potential career in a significant and irreversible way.

So, i suggest to you that altho you can critique it is very different from an edit. My connection with this professional editor and two amateur editors is that they will bracket words and passages that are wrong and offer either replacement ideas or suggested rewrites but they dion't want to give me too much of a set of words that i simply insert them as the change of "voice" would be a criminal act.

I have the feeling that if you have a strong desire to edit and reword poor passages then you may be better to work with th writer as he is producing it so you can influence them with changes b4 anything gets set in concrete. Do you see what I mean here?

Personally I would have been open to editorial rewwrites and inserts, but having had their advice and understanding what they are saying I accept that you tell me that this is wrong and how it needs to be fixed but leave that totally open for me to write that in my own style, my "voice".

I think you would make an excellent writing partner for someone like me. IO have lots of great ideas and story lines. I believe I can "tell a good sory". People tell me that I can tell stories both verbally and now in writing, but I have a zero technical English ability. i am lucky to start a paragraph but incapable of knowing when and where to do it. i have serious problems with sentence structure grammar and grandpa, and everything else as technical product. All of my work needs help even spelling get sa serious hit. i submitted a page for critiquing and there were three bites on the front [page, the "wakening scene". i wrote them as bights, the land form and boy did they tear me a ne one for daring to call myself a writer for producing such carp.

No fish were harme din the making o his message.

The critique of that one 3/4 page run into severla pages from all critqiers, some just wrote apage on the first sentence or two. O swore black and blue I ould never submit another part for critique. I accepted i have no technical English ability, what I need is a person to read the story and tell me if it works. If it makes sense, is logical, if it joins together as whole work, if there are gaps in continuity or such like. I want to know if the story is good enuff that people may want to read it thru, basically if this oen is worth sending tot he professional editor and pay 2 grand to have it tidied. I am not a man of means, I live on welfare. Right now I could afford to pay for one edit for 2 grand, I have to pick one of my 4 full books to go for editing and then find a publisher to consdier it for publication.

I digress, i oftn do.
You need to define critique and editor.
Then decide what you are.
Also, I think you need to talk to some editors and see what they say about you rewriting another'[s MS. I have the strong feeling they will say NO!,. in strong terms, all to do with the "voice" bit explained above.

Of course I could be very wrong, i often am. But I was told this and understood it. Maybe someone who knows what they are talking about will tell you the same thing in a polite way and you will come to learn it for yourself.

Best regards

Herman the Merman!

Alpha Echo
11-02-2009, 04:06 PM
You CAN fix things and have others see them. When I do a line-by-line beta, that's exactly what I do. There's an editing/reviewing/tracking changes feature in Word. It crosses out things you delete, changes appear in different colors, and your author can keep your corrections or ignore them with a click of a button. You can also add comments on the side.

My MO is to make all the corrections--I'd change every "your" to "you're", etc. But that's just me :D

I do this too unless it's a comment in regards to an opinion I have about a character or plot line or something. Then, you can add a comment in a little bubble (in Word), or I'll wait until the end of the chapter and make notes. It depends on what the writer wants from you. If they ask not to worry about grammar, etc, then only look at the plot and characters.

Herman Munster
11-02-2009, 04:25 PM
Okay I have read the other comments and some mention voice and did so in so few words it truly makes me look an arse!

I was introduced to the Track Change feature in Word. I have OO as well but haven't used it except for the export PDF function which is magic for my perceived needs.

I stronlgy recommend you investigate the Track Changes feture. When i got he text back from the editor, i went to make some manual changes beside the eidtors and it made mine in a different colour and named mine as it had named his. This suggested to me that say 2 or 3 editors could make their changes and then pass it to the next one who can make their own paralell changes and then pass it on. When the author gets it back he could select one of the three and delete the other two at each incident of multiple editorial changes.

So for those of you who are like me and more or less Word virgins, have a close look at that track changes and just make sure you have your details set right in the Word properties etc so that the program knows who you are, who other uses on the computer are and the editors who do make changes and suggestions using the Track Changes feature.

My professional editor wrote half a page on one of his first "notes" to me which was just a single letter or word colour and when I hover the mouse I get this huge paragraph that pops up with heaps of great info in it to help me.

I acknowledge the change coulour, insert a comment or increase the font and colour of youer changes. That you do this manually is combersome but, HEY, if you are happiest doing it so, then keep at it.
I think it is critical to leave me my original text intact. Corr3cting their/there your/you're would not bother me if I never knew. i don't see that as something I need to confirm or approve or even reject. That is something that spel check won't pick up and even when you proof read your own writing, it can be a problem. I have read a sentece 5 times and know there is something wrong. When I rad it i am inserting the missing word and can't tell i am doing it but I know something is not right. Eventually I get the finger tot he screen and point and read every word and usually pick the flaw up that way, ok that is rare but i have had to do it.

I rckon what ever works, is good but then also be open to be taught new stuff, that Track Changes thing i have found was awesome and I look forward to getting back stuff that is away now and see the Track Changes in action again. I thort it was neat!

Always remember, WRITERS WRITE.
So go WRITE something and put a smile on someone's dial!

Regards

Herman!

sydney
11-02-2009, 10:13 PM
Well yeah, the definition of a "beta" varies. Some people think it's about general feedback and others think it's more along the lines of an editing thing. In my opinion, when people look for betas, their main thought is that they want a fresh pair of eyes. How close these eyes will look and what exactly they will look for can be clarified after contact is made :)
Just my 2 cents lol

And yes, with the tracking changes thing, you can have different authors. It really depends on what Word thinks your user name is, which you can change easily (it's under "word options" for me; 2007 edition).

Jess Haines
11-03-2009, 12:46 AM
If the ms is mostly clean, I'll do a line edit.

If there's something that doesn't make sense or some minor plot holes, I'll do a line edit plus commentary at top or bottom.

If the ms has the same errors repeatedly, and isn't ready for line edits, I will usually just do a bullet point: "fix A, B, C, D and E, and get back to me" kind of beta.

Matera the Mad
11-03-2009, 10:43 AM
I vary my technique. Some manuscripts don't need to have a lot of mechanical errors flagged. I can copy out short passages that need to be remarked on and concentrate on style and plot issues. Others need to have repetitions highlighted, comments or left-out words added in color, strikeouts, etc.. I don't try to catch every instance of repeated errors either, but make sure the problem is described well and solutions suggested. Now and then I may re-write a sentence or indicate where something should be moved to another paragraph, if the original is truly stand-out awkward. Usually there are comments with those.

It surprises me how many errors I miss in a first readthrough and catch in the second.

Herman Munster
11-04-2009, 04:45 PM
Yeah, I see what others are saying.
Maybe we all need to write down, very clearly at the beginning of the process what we want what we don't want and the expectations we have.

IN SYW I was suggested to put my synopsis online for comments, I have done that for book 1 and I only have 1 comment but it is fortunately about the content and not my lack of technical skills and all the errors that must be in the synopsis.
So, with a beta, tell then you want a rit, light edit, whole story overview and don't let them rulke you. Just cos they are working for free, set YOUR parameters and make them stick by them or remove them from your beta list.
You have been told! <GRIN>

Namatu
11-04-2009, 07:43 PM
I use the track changes function. I will point out awkwardness, and I do correct typos and punctuation, but I don't rewrite. My role as a beta is to offer opinion and constructive criticism on what you have written. But if someone doesn't want typos pointed out, I could maybe ignore them. Maybe. :D

Carmy
11-10-2009, 11:01 PM
If I'm doing line-by-line editing, I use the "strikethrough" feature and make my suggestions in red text. I also insert any notes or comment in [red] so they're easy to find. I wouldn't call it re-writing but it's an easy way to rework an awkward sentence (a suggestion) OR I will insert a comment like, [This is awkward: consider .... ] I also insert comments if it's just a general "note" using Word's "Insert Comment" feature.

Hope that answers your question.

I do the same thing but I use blue because it seems a bit kinder than red. I also add comments if I think the author has done a terrific job on conveying something to the reader without being obvious.

At the moment, an author I'm working with managed to convey a character's personality in a way that had me wondering what type of person that was. I had a strong feeling that she wasn't nice and the author just confirmed it in Chapter 9. Things like that make me trust the author and I make sure I let her know.

Don't forget to offer praise as well as corrections. We all need it.

DeleyanLee
11-10-2009, 11:28 PM
Do you simply note the errors in a manuscript as you read it, and then leave the author to correct them. Or do acitvely fix them as you go along.

I don't do line editing. I don't consider that to be the job of a beta-reader. A beta-reader, to me, is someone who brings a fresh pair of eyes to the experience of the story and comments as a reader first, a reader second, and maybe a reader third. If there is a reoccurring problem--regardless of if it's grammar, structure, character, etc--I'll mention it in my summary comments as something to take a look at if it got in the way of my enjoyment of the story, but I don't try to fix it. For all I know, it might have been a stylistic attempt that failed and not really "wrong" at all.

I don't consider that to be a beta's job to fix any of the problems either. As the beta, I can only guess what the writer was attempting to do and any fix I might suggest is only my preference/vision, and not theirs.

Rowan
11-11-2009, 05:11 AM
I do the same thing but I use blue because it seems a bit kinder than red. I also add comments if I think the author has done a terrific job on conveying something to the reader without being obvious.

At the moment, an author I'm working with managed to convey a character's personality in a way that had me wondering what type of person that was. I had a strong feeling that she wasn't nice and the author just confirmed it in Chapter 9. Things like that make me trust the author and I make sure I let her know.

Don't forget to offer praise as well as corrections. We all need it.

[Bolding is mine]

Ah yes, excellent point that I forgot to mention. Along with making suggestions for improvement I always point out what the writer has done well, etc. I also like to insert general "reader" comments, ie., my initial reactions upon reading a line or paragraph and by that I mean if something really stood out --- made me laugh or really hit home...

As for blue v. red --- red just happens to be my favorite color! :D

Carmy
11-12-2009, 04:51 AM
As for blue v. red --- red just happens to be my favorite color! :D

Rowan - You naughty witchblader you!

cscarlet
11-12-2009, 09:23 AM
This is the first time I've been a beta for anyone, and I'm using Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature. As I go through, if I hate a sentence or certain words within a sentence, I'll delete it (and it will show the red strike through).... if I have comments, I'll add those (also show up on the side or in red). I haven't made many suggestions for changes, but I have a few (more along the lines of: "I don't like this word, perhaps:____ or ____ would be more appropriate." Or, something along the lines of "This part is confusing, please clarify by adding ___ into the plot/character."

I didn't intend on doing it as a line-by-line initially, but that is how I feel most helpful. Ergo, how it is being done. :)

DeleyanLee
11-12-2009, 06:32 PM
Am I the only one who absolutely cannot stand Track Changes and the Comments feature in Word?

Carmy
11-12-2009, 07:02 PM
DeleyanLee -- Nope, I don't like it either. It adds a 'mechanical' element I don't like.