PDA

View Full Version : How I Think a Beta Reader is Badly Needed Now



Craig Mattice
04-27-2011, 04:08 PM
I’ve spent a good part of the last 12 hours researching the AW site trying to learn and understand more about writing and how I may improve. I admit, I am totally disabled with some cognitive challenges, using speech recognition to work my PC and write. I really have no idea what I’m doing, other than what others here have freely shared with me. I plead guilty to total ignorance, but I am not stupid. There is a big difference.

{Is has been suggested I look for a critiquing partner first to make sure the MS is ready for the time investment of a beta. This makes sense to me so change beta in this post to critiquing and let's go from there. Thank you bluntforcetrauma.}

Knowing my first and only attempt at writing a book still requires a great deal of work, I have surpassed my knowledge level to continue. Interestingly, I have found myself sitting here asking, “OK, now what am supposed to do next?” Having prefaced with the above, allow me to stumble through and present what I believe would be of great assistance at this point for verification using the Beta Reader's cart blanch for suggestions.


This project is nonfiction with a combination of self-improvement, motivation, and personal experiences
Writing method is unique, like a kitchen table conversation vs. a technical English lit thesis
Quick read the manuscript for overview, organization, continuity and progressive flow
Review the overall content and organization starting with the table of contents
I am not familiar with how tightly formatted and organized the MS should be, some of it is not pretty.
Evaluate each chapter for logical flow of each subsection within the chapter
The Beta Reader may interject freely, all options are open (If I don’t know, I can’t improve.)
The desired goals for a reader are personal discovery of pearls of wisdom, vicarious participation and enjoy the process feeling good at the end
Spell check and grammar check have been utilized only to the extent to not interfere with the writing style (Honestly, some of the suggestions were befuddling at most.)

I currently have a reader who was a book publisher editor in a previous career life reviewing the manuscript. She has, like the beta reader, cart blanch for any and all suggestions, edits, etc. My wife is the only other person to read this material (3x) other than me (6x), to complete major editorial, organizational and content changes during the development process. Fresh eyes are greatly appreciated.

The original idea of this project was simply to document my experiences and knowledge learned with the application to real life. The book is for my children and their children so they will remember and know who I was. It kind of got out of hand after people began to hear about it and asking for copies once released. These people know of my challenges and writing from forums, emails, and my personal blog.

Understandably, I will be at the mercy of the Beta Reader. I really don’t know what I’m doing other than following directions from AW members. If I'm in the wrong place, mods just let me know and move me. I apologize for the length, I tend to "run off at the keys" so to speak. So, what's next?


With sincere gratitude and appreciation,

bluntforcetrauma
04-27-2011, 04:48 PM
Hey, Craig. You might try asking for a critiquing partner. Then if they feel your manuscript (MS) is up to snuff, the next step would be a beta. Of course, maybe the MS is at that stage. I wish you the very best.

Craig Mattice
04-27-2011, 04:55 PM
Hey, Craig. You might try asking for a critiquing partner. Then if they feel your manuscript (MS) is up to snuff, the next step would be a beta. Of course, maybe the MS is at that stage. I wish you the very best.
OK, this sounds good to me. I will go back and edit my original post asking for a critiquing partner and go from there.

Thank you for reading and responding with some good direction for me. I easily got confused between the SYW, Critters, and Betas. Sounds like college frats and sororities doesn't it?

Craig Mattice
04-28-2011, 01:45 PM
I've been doing some research on the forum and please correct me if I am wrong. Based on the recommendation of bluntforcetrauma am I to understand to locate a critiquing partner I need to post on the SYW board vs. here first?

I'm becoming very confused on the mechanics of these aspects since my book is nonfiction, not a novel and my manuscript is completed. Should I post the first chapter on SYW first and see what happens for critiquing?

I am totally open to learn as much as I can from this forum even though I am proceeding in an awkward manner even after reading the stickies.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Your guidance is greatly appreciated.

heza
04-28-2011, 10:30 PM
Craig,

Posting your intro and first chapter in SYW was a good step. SYW is a good way to get a nuts-and-bolts critique of a small portion of text from several different critters, which will show you whether you have any major, fundamental problems with your writing style and organization. You should take any critiques you get in response to your post and apply them throughout your manuscript prior to getting your beta reader. You want your beta reader to work with the cleanest copy you can give them.

It's also nice to have an excerpt posted in SYW because when you come to the Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies forum and post a request (and you can request critique/writing partners, as well as beta readers, here), you can link back to your SYW post. Potential responders can follow that link, read a portion of your work, and know whether they are a good fit for your style and genre.

It sounds like, between your friends and your wife, you've got a good "alpha" read going, which is what some people consider that pre-beta step where you're still hashing out structure, content, and style with someone. Incorporate those changes, produce a stronger draft, and then maybe come back and ask for a formal beta read, which is more like a dress rehearsal. The beta reader acts like a reader who got your book at the store and gives their feedback on whether they liked the book, what worked and what didn't, and any other feedback they think would be helpful for you. But it's a later-stage critique, at the point you think your book is "ready" for reading by a general audience.

You can also request a writing partner in this forum for general, mutual hand holding, inspiration, brainstorming, etc. But that's not the same thing as a beta and is most helpful at more primitive stages of drafting.

Good luck.

Craig Mattice
04-29-2011, 01:26 AM
Craig,

Posting your intro and first chapter in SYW was a good step. SYW is a good way to get a nuts-and-bolts critique of a small portion of text from several different critters,..... You should take any critiques you get in response to your post and apply them throughout your manuscript prior to getting your beta reader. You want your beta reader to work with the cleanest copy you can give them.

Good luck.
Hello heza,

Thank you for taking the time to share this important information and provide the guidance I so sorely need to move forward. This is my first attempt and your quote above is absolutely my objective. If I don't know something, how am I going to learn and properly apply it to better the project. I am open to all criticism and make the best of it. You nailed it right on the head, heza.

I greatly appreciate you responding to this very awkward attempt to maneuver though this process and do it correctly. I do not wish to waste anyone's time and energy during this process. I am the student seeker and understand no one owes me anything.

With sincere gratitude,

katiemac
04-29-2011, 06:47 PM
Closed at OP's request.