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View Full Version : If two betas are going to read the same thing, should they collaborate, or is each read on its own?



Prawn
04-01-2011, 04:07 PM
Let's say I beta read chapters for someone and I find a serious flaw that needs to be fixed, for example, lack of attributions showing who's talking, lots of head hopping, or lots of repetition. I spend time making corrections and talking to the author about how this needs to be fixed.

Then the next day someone else says, "Hey, I'll beta read it too!"

Is it appropriate for me to PM the new beta or post on the thread and say "I just read it and I noticed a lot of head hopping. You might want to concentrate on other things since the author already knows about this problem"?

On the one hand, I don't want them to waste time duplicating the work I have already done. On the other hand, some people might say each beta read should be fresh.

What do you think?

shadowwalker
04-01-2011, 05:52 PM
It should be independent. Writers choose betas for what that individual can see, and if the same thing comes up independently, it adds a little more "weight" to the issue, so I want to know that.

Chris P
04-01-2011, 05:55 PM
I agree they should be independent. Too often the input of people working together builds on itself into a hive mind mentality where you can get way off track.

lbender
04-01-2011, 06:14 PM
It should be independent. Writers choose betas for what that individual can see, and if the same thing comes up independently, it adds a little more "weight" to the issue, so I want to know that.

This.

katiemac
04-01-2011, 06:29 PM
I agree with the others who say it should be independent. It's the writer's job to communicate with his or her beta readers, not the job of the betas to communicate with each other.

CACTUSWENDY
04-01-2011, 06:29 PM
Independent. That's why you have more than one beta reader....to find if things work for the masses.

Prawn
04-01-2011, 06:31 PM
This.

Um...not this.

I may not have phrase my question well.

I have betas I have used before, and I know what they bring to the table.

My question was about betaing on this forum among relative strangers, not picked betas. If I post on here for a Beta, and someone replies, I'll give them some chapters to read. Often it is only one or two replies, so I don't get to choose.

So, someone asks for a beta. You beta their chapters. A couple of days later, someone else volunteers to beta (notice there is no choice of betas involved here, nor knowledge of what the betas bring to the table) would it be helpful for Beta A to talk to Beta B?

Something like: "I read it, and there's a lot of problems with head-hopping, but they are working on it. You might not want to spend your time correcting that aspect of the work, but look more at other things."

Leaving aside the issue of choice (which is not relevant when posting here asking for a stranger to critique) is it a good idea for betas to talk to each other in this way?

Four votes for no, so far, but I wanted to make sure my question was clear.

katiemac
04-01-2011, 06:47 PM
So, someone asks for a beta. You beta their chapters. A couple of days later, someone else volunteers to beta (notice there is no choice of betas involved here, nor knowledge of what the betas bring to the table) would it be helpful for Beta A to talk to Beta B?This is up to the writer. The writer should be the one to instigate conversation between betas, if he or she desires. It's my strong opinion that it's not quite the right place of the betas to make a decision like this without the writer's input.

shadowwalker
04-01-2011, 07:28 PM
My question was about betaing on this forum among relative strangers, not picked betas. If I post on here for a Beta, and someone replies, I'll give them some chapters to read. Often it is only one or two replies, so I don't get to choose.

So, someone asks for a beta. You beta their chapters. A couple of days later, someone else volunteers to beta (notice there is no choice of betas involved here, nor knowledge of what the betas bring to the table) would it be helpful for Beta A to talk to Beta B?

Something like: "I read it, and there's a lot of problems with head-hopping, but they are working on it. You might not want to spend your time correcting that aspect of the work, but look more at other things."



Same difference. It shouldn't be beta-by-consensus, or "ignore this problem because I already mentioned it". If betas are going to collaborate, there's no point to having more than one person look at it - and thus, you get one person's perspective, which is pretty much useless. When I'm reading a story on my beta group, I don't even read the posted comments until after I've posted mine. The author is looking for my thoughts, and the thoughts of other *individuals* (and I say that as an author as well).

DeaK
04-01-2011, 07:51 PM
I vote no, too. Not every beta will have the same issues with the text – although hopefully they would all pick up on your examples, as they would be definite mistakes. But even so, it is quite possible for each beta to present or suggest a different take on how to handle these problems, which means the author then has multiple techniques they could use to fix their piece, as opposed to just the one.

I can see that it would be less work for the other betas if the first came and said, 'I focused on the head hopping, so don't worry about that,' but I think that the risks of losing out are too great for the writer.

Also, if you get a piece to beta, and it just seems like too much work – like too much needs to be fixed, I think it's perfectly fine just to beta the first few thousand words, and hand it back, saying, do this to the rest, and I'll look at it again. My opinion :)

Prawn
04-01-2011, 08:23 PM
Seems like we have a consensus that it lessens the effectiveness of each beta's contribution for them to collaborate.

This seems at odd with suggestions in this thread that you choose different betas for different purposes: Beta A is a great help with plot, Beta B always catches my typos, Beta C tells me when the characters are acting stupid.

In this case, you are choosing Betas because they will do different things to help your writing.

The thrust of my original post was to see if communication among betas could help them avoid wasting time by all correcting the same errors.

However, I concede this would be a difficult thing to achieve, and isn't the way responders to the thread think it should work.

Thanks for all the responses so far!
Prawn

CACTUSWENDY
04-01-2011, 08:34 PM
When I beta I am up front that I don't do punctuation and proper English well. I do plot holes, concepts, flows, head hopping, etc..

So that is what they get from me. I would not care/be concerned with what another beta brings to the table as being a beta is only my opinion. Each beta will/might see different things. I keep my thoughts to myself.

So, no. I would not need to know/care what others think of the work. IMHO

frimble3
04-01-2011, 10:21 PM
I've only ever beta'd a couple of things, and none of them here, but if I'm going to spend my time doing it, I don't want to have to co-ordinate and collaborate with a third party, as well.

AlexPiper
04-01-2011, 11:18 PM
I think if it's possible, having them collaborate on the feedback is valuable. Not the actual beta-reading, but having everyone in one place for feedback at the end.

I've always found in-person critique circles more valuable than just one-off beta readers, simply because when you have only one person giving you feedback at a time they may skip over things they considered minor, but that seem less minor if they occur to everyone.

If I'm sitting around a table with the people who just read my work, and one of them remarks, "Well, I love the concept, but something in the part where <random story element> doesn't ring quite right to me," then another may build on that remark. They might go, "Actually, yah, that bothered me a little too. Not enough that I felt it worth mentioning, but I did notice that." Or maybe they go, "Really? That seemed perfectly reasonable to me, because of <minor element a chapter earlier>." and the other person replies, "Oh... huh! I didn't realize, but you're right." and the third one at the table says, "The later part didn't really bother me, but I didn't notice that earlier bit either."

Either way, I come away with useful information generated by their interaction which I might not have had if they'd just e-mailed their comments to me individually. If you're doing beta-reading online rather than in person, setting up a little mailing list for your beta-readers to share their impressions might work in the same manner; don't force them to collaborate, but expose them to each other's feedback. :)

Medievalist
04-01-2011, 11:21 PM
When you have two betas, I suggest you have a cage-match to see who's right.

AlexPiper
04-01-2011, 11:34 PM
When you have two betas, I suggest you have a cage-match to see who's right.

Two readers enter, one reader leaves!

shadowwalker
04-01-2011, 11:59 PM
If I'm sitting around a table with the people who just read my work

I think in-person beta groups would be a bit different than online, yes. Then it's more of a brainstorming type thing, I would think (haven't participated in one, myself).

The groups I'm in online are blog type things, so everyone posts their comments there. As I said, I don't read the other comments until I've made mine, but we do get some lively discussions about them.

I think once crits are made, then discussions between all concerned can be helpful to the author (and the betas). It also helps ensure that one or more betas aren't trying to bully the writer into doing things their way. ;)

Prawn
04-02-2011, 09:04 PM
So maybe like a roundtable discussion among the betas after they've read it? Sounds like that would work.

WriteMinded
04-05-2011, 07:57 PM
IF I were lucky enough to have two betas, I'd rather they didn't talk to each other. I'd want to hear what each had to say from their own perspective, uninfluenced by anyone else.

Forlorn Radiance
04-06-2011, 05:39 AM
Regardless of who my betas are, I trust that they will each pick up on different things. If I see they independently pick up on the same thing, that's when I know I have a problem.

Bufty
04-06-2011, 03:41 PM
Not without the specific knowledge and prior approval of the writer of the manuscript concerned. Just my twopenneth.