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View Full Version : Beta reader -when is the time?



havestorytotell
05-20-2012, 06:04 AM
I am writing a memoir that is heavy duty. I am positive I am in the right direction. I have 100K words in a first draft. I have tons of notes that I could add into the story but I am thinking since I have no one (that is part of the story!) to bounce this off, I am going to let three betas read it and just give me an idea of if it makes sense to them. Then I will take what they all say and evaluate and do a rewrite and perhaps add in more (or take out some, if they say so) THEN go to a pro editor. My question is, Does it make sense to send out my first draft to them NOW before I am finished putting in extra notes? The story is all there, the notes are just additions to the story. In other words, I need feedback and I think I should get some now. Wandering with 100K words, I am living this memoir and am want it done!

Theo81
05-20-2012, 04:00 PM
It depends.

How clean is your prose? If I'm reading something and constantly making grammar notes, any comments I make about the content will be weaker (if, indeed, I make any at all.) Okay, you could say to a beta that it's only a first draft so not to worry about that, but poor grammar makes things difficult to read. I (personally) would also find it pretty annoying if I was your beta and was handed something which wasn't written to the best of your ability (then again, I'm never going to agree to beta a first draft).
Even if your prose is clean, it may still need a sweep for common errors. Is it littered with dialogue tags? Adjective overuse? Redundancies? The word "that"?


How important it the detail? Does it prohibit the understanding, or the flow of the story? Is there stuff you need to take out? You are already right at the top end of the wordcount for a memoir, but on the other hand, memoir is an incredibly tough area; if you self-pub this (which may be the best thing for it, the Kindle best-seller chart is filled with self-pubbed memoir) the word count won't matter as much.

*You* are the writer, which means *you* need to have a good understanding of your own writing. A Beta can only make a first read once, so you are going to have to be confident you can find at least one more person to do a "first read" on the final version. (If that's the feedback you want).


Try writing the synopsis, or have a crack at the query letter. It will help you to clarify the story arc of your novel (because memoir needs one too) and will probably answer the question you've posed here.

Let the MS sit in the drawer for a week or two. Then read it with fresh eyes.

I understand you want to get this done, but remember that your Betas are doing you a favour. Show them respect by presenting your best work.

When you are at 50 posts, you can start threads in SYW - we can offer structural feedback on the synopsis there.

Mustafa
05-20-2012, 04:49 PM
I am writing a memoir that is heavy duty. I am positive I am in the right direction. I have 100K words in a first draft. I have tons of notes that I could add into the story but I am thinking since I have no one (that is part of the story!) to bounce this off, I am going to let three betas read it and just give me an idea of if it makes sense to them. Then I will take what they all say and evaluate and do a rewrite and perhaps add in more (or take out some, if they say so) THEN go to a pro editor. My question is, Does it make sense to send out my first draft to them NOW before I am finished putting in extra notes? The story is all there, the notes are just additions to the story. In other words, I need feedback and I think I should get some now. Wandering with 100K words, I am living this memoir and am want it done!

Do you need feedback right now? If you already know you'll be adding stuff, I say add it now. Beta reading can be different for everyone, but I don't want to read something that's not done. I say get it written how YOU think it should be written. Polish it. And if something is lacking and you can't put your finger on what it is, or if you want some feedback on how it reads, get a beta reader.

Good beta readers are hard to find. Use them wisely. Don't waste a good beta on a manuscript you could've fixed without their input.

shadowwalker
05-20-2012, 05:57 PM
I'd say if you know you're going to add/delete things, do so before sending it to the betas. Nothing's more aggravating than to write up a full crit of a chapter (or even a section of it) only to have the author say, well, I planned on cutting that anyway (or even, I was thinking of cutting that).

Another thought is to include the possible additions/deletions but highlight them in some way so the betas know you're not sure about those sections. They might be more comfortable saying yea or nay if they knew ahead of time that those sections weren't "cut in stone".

havestorytotell
05-20-2012, 07:20 PM
Thanks all three responders. With your wise input I will work hard to put all notes in and clean up the manuscript. THEN I will put it aside for 2 weeks. After that do a major cleanup-rewrite and the the best edit I can, and then proceed to Betas. You all pointed out that you should give the best work you can to your betas. THANKS!