PDA

View Full Version : Beta Readers vs. Editors?



Jessianodel
11-23-2010, 07:29 AM
I was just wondering...I know beta readers looks for any plot holes, things that don't make sense and anything that wasn't explained very well.

Do the also fix grammar, verb tenses, punctuation and things like that, or is that strictly an editor? Or does it just depend on the type of beta you get?

Jax3683
11-23-2010, 07:34 AM
I've done a few beta reads, and while I mostly look for plot holes - I do give occasional edits for grammar and all those other "fun" little bits as well.

I think it really depends on who is doing the read. (My sister will be one of my Beta readers for my current WIP, and I know she will solely be looking for plot holes and continuity. She could care less about grammar in most cases.)

OneWriter
11-23-2010, 07:38 AM
I check everything. Plot holes, grammar, punctuation, repetitions, pace, character development. My ideal beta reader does the same.

leahzero
11-23-2010, 09:43 AM
Talk to your betas upfront and agree on the type of feedback you both want. There's no set standard. That's the beauty of it!

shadowwalker
11-23-2010, 05:33 PM
I check everything. Plot holes, grammar, punctuation, repetitions, pace, character development. My ideal beta reader does the same.

Same here (unless the writer specifically says otherwise)

Jamesaritchie
11-23-2010, 11:24 PM
I was just wondering...I know beta readers looks for any plot holes, things that don't make sense and anything that wasn't explained very well.

Do the also fix grammar, verb tenses, punctuation and things like that, or is that strictly an editor? Or does it just depend on the type of beta you get?

Unless you fix these tings, you're in trouble. If you don't know grammar going in, garbage comes out. Fixing grammar, punctuation, tense, etc., does not fix bad writing, it just means you have bad writing with good grammar.

Outside of typos and the like, a beta reader who fixes your grammar is doing you no favor, and you're not doing yourself one by allowing them to do it.

Snappy
11-24-2010, 12:42 AM
Same here (unless the writer specifically says otherwise)

Me three.

Jess Haines
11-24-2010, 12:52 AM
Me three.

Me fourth.

Maryn
11-24-2010, 01:37 AM
I'll stop on a beta read when I see there are lots of grammar and usage repairs needed. (I have no problem with a correction every few pages, or with spotting the occasional typo.)

My time is too valuable to spend on fixes every author should be doing himself or herself. If a writer has not yet produced a draft with writing mechanics which are nearly flawless, then that work isn't yet ready for a beta reader.

Maryn, falling over in a faint because she agreed with JAR

DeleyanLee
11-24-2010, 01:52 AM
I was just wondering...I know beta readers looks for any plot holes, things that don't make sense and anything that wasn't explained very well.

Do the also fix grammar, verb tenses, punctuation and things like that, or is that strictly an editor? Or does it just depend on the type of beta you get?

It can be done. People will do it for you. However, my question always comes back to: How do you know that they know more than you do? And if you purposely broke a rule for some effect, a beta stuck in the grammar rule book will change it without looking for the effect you were going for. Waste of time on both your parts.

I don't know how many times I've gotten books back from betas who have changed correct punctuation and grammar to something entirely wrong and then argued with me (and various references) about the topic. It's frustrating and exhausting and usually costs me a beta reader.

Real life example: I wrote a Historical Fiction in tight third person, even down to giving the narration the POV character's voice, which meant not perfect English. I gave it to a beta reader, someone I'd talked to on another writer's board and thought would give me good commentary. She went through the first chapter and completely wrote it to Struck & White specifications--perfect English ad completely murdered the tone and style I'd chosen to tell the story in. Really truly not helpful and not wanted--but a great learning experience for me in dealing with beta readers.

My solution was to learn to do it myself and expressly request betas NOT to do it, especially betas I've never worked with before (even if I think I know them as people).

Why borrow trouble? I might be a control freak, but since the responsibility is mine, I'll do the work, thank you.

shadowwalker
11-24-2010, 02:05 AM
I'll stop on a beta read when I see there are lots of grammar and usage repairs needed. (I have no problem with a correction every few pages, or with spotting the occasional typo.)

My time is too valuable to spend on fixes every author should be doing himself or herself. If a writer has not yet produced a draft with writing mechanics which are nearly flawless, then that work isn't yet ready for a beta reader.

Maryn, falling over in a faint because she agreed with JAR

I should perhaps revise my statement, because, yes - if there are gawd-awful grammar errors I'll stop and request the writer fix it before I go further. Same with spelling/typos. But there are 'gray areas' that I don't consider unreasonable to find.

Jessianodel
11-24-2010, 02:18 AM
Thanks for answering!

So it does depend on the beta reader, but anyone will hand it back if the grammar is completely horrible? I probably would too. Reading mistake after mistake distracts from the story.


It can be done. People will do it for you. However, my question always comes back to: How do you know that they know more than you do? And if you purposely broke a rule for some effect, a beta stuck in the grammar rule book will change it without looking for the effect you were going for.
That's true. One of my friends did that once. She asked to read it and then crossed out a word I specifically used with what she thought should happen. That was pretty annoying.

amyashley
11-24-2010, 02:37 AM
No matter how fabulous your beta is they will make some call somewhere in a full novel that you disagree with. However, if they truly are good, they will understand that it is YOUR work, and you have the final say.

I don't understand when people say that a beta has "rewritten" their work. I only allow mine to make comments, either by track changes (commenting only) or making comments within the work that are highlighted. I compare the document with comments to my own notes (I have also reviewed it by then) and to my other betas (good to have a few), then decide what gets kept and what not. I also add more.

Then I revise.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS exchange material both ways with a potential beta. You will know if the person you are having beta for you has skill writing, what those skills are, and how they compare to your own. Also, have them crit the piece you send to see what their crit style is like. You may not care for it.

Some of my beta choices excell at grammar, some at creative thinking, and some at professional level details. I would not discount a beta with a few grammar errors if they had outstanding grasp of structure and their creative genius was so riveting I couldn't concentrate on editing. I've had one like that, and it was well worth poring over the grammar. The feedback was incredible too.

Figure out what your weaknesses are and seek specifically those in a beta. Also, find betas that you can not only learn from, but who write on a level that you feel they will learn from you. It should be a profitable experience.

Rowan
11-24-2010, 04:47 AM
I'll stop on a beta read when I see there are lots of grammar and usage repairs needed. (I have no problem with a correction every few pages, or with spotting the occasional typo.)

My time is too valuable to spend on fixes every author should be doing himself or herself. If a writer has not yet produced a draft with writing mechanics which are nearly flawless, then that work isn't yet ready for a beta reader.

Maryn, falling over in a faint because she agreed with JAR

Maryn, I'm right there with you ;)

I won't send a MS to a beta reader unless I feel it's *almost* submission ready. I'm never satisfied, never feel a MS is perfect, but I aim for as close to perfect as I can get. IMHO, sending a beta reader a first (rough) draft is not the way to go about the process.

I rely on beta readers to tell me if there are any plot holes / confusion, gaps in character development, and for their overall reaction as a reader (etc). I've been fortunate enough to work with some really great beta readers. They all provided invaluable input--areas where I needed to increase the tension or improve pacing. Pointing out sloppy dialogue or where I need dialogue v. narration. It's not about rewriting someone else's story, but pushing them in a direction that will improve it.

You must master the craft of writing yourself--a beta shouldn't be expected to fix these problems fo you.

Above all, a beta and an author should agree beforehand what is expected from the relationship. :) I HIGHLY recommend you begin any beta relationship by exchanging a few chapters. Don't commit to critiquing an entire MS until you're sure it's a good match (you want to benefit from the exchange).


Posted by Jessianodel:
That's true. One of my friends did that once. She asked to read it and then crossed out a word I specifically used with what she thought should happen. That was pretty annoying.


I had a friend who badgered me daily to read my latest MS. I finally relented and the result was disastrous. She basically tried to rewrite the bloody thing in her voice/style, etc., which would've ruined the MS.

On the flip side, I have two wonderful friends who read for me and give invaluable input. They don't line edit but just provide overall impressions as a reader.

FranYoakumVeal
11-24-2010, 05:38 AM
When it comes to grammar, my mama is my "beta". She's a former HS English teacher and can't help herself. I think I'd want the grammar finished before I sent it to a Beta. I wouldn't want to waste someone else's time on grammar.

Jessianodel
11-25-2010, 04:06 AM
I had a friend who badgered me daily to read my latest MS. I finally relented and the result was disastrous. She basically tried to rewrite the bloody thing in her voice/style, etc., which would've ruined the MS.

On the flip side, I have two wonderful friends who read for me and give invaluable input. They don't line edit but just provide overall impressions as a reader.

I know what you mean. Oddly enough on my new MS she's perfect because I guess it's more her type of story. The other one was kind of a fantasy but this one is funny so I guess it's more her speed.