Beta Reader! (49)

1 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-05-05 10:41 ID:tgbb4Puh

Im sure I'm not the only one who is a bit confused about having/being a Beta reader! So could people please explain the whys?, hows? and whens? of beta reading!

I think it will be very helpful.
Thanks :D

2 Name: Bola : 2010-05-05 14:28 ID:wylEuHNW

Hi. I'll be happy to elucidate things about having a beta. I have ome and am one myself. Mainly, when you are too much into something, like when you have written somethign yourself, it is rather hard to see mistakes. Of course, this isn't only about typos. Some writers see them in their own work very well, others don't. Some writers see inconsistencies very well in their work, others don't. That's where a beta reader could help. It is often so that you read over typos and such. You get what should be there, and what is meant by it... even if it isn't really for others. Some beta readers provide help with characterization and descriptions, others mainly with the technicities: verbs, grammar and spelling. You have to see for yourself if you are someone who occasionally reads over typos and such. You have to decide for yourself if there is room for improvement or not. Beta readers offer a new pair of eyes, and often give really valuable suggestions and comments. If you think there's room for improvement here or there, you try to decide which writing aspects in particular and look for a beta that focusses on these. I hope this helped at least something.

3 Name: pick1frcryingoutloud : 2010-05-06 00:08 ID:LruMALJN

Hi. I don't have a Beat reader but I've found that when you leave your fic alone for a while and then come back to it, you're like a first time reader. That way I know that when it isn't immediately understandable what is being said, I have to change it. That's how I figure out the best way to convey what I like to say.

4 Name: Bola : 2010-05-06 00:33 ID:wylEuHNW

That's true. However it is a very long time with me until I can see at it with 'fresh eyes'. :) And I generally dislike leaving finished stories lying around.

5 Name: Fee : 2010-05-06 08:46 ID:TlRFraUc

Somebody looking over your work, fixing all the little errors, making sure things make sense and so on makes it easier for your actual readers. As a reader, I know I get easily distracted by the little things (apostrophe abuse, mainly), so it's giving your readers the chance to just read it.

Really depends on the beta themselves, and how you meant the question. If the how is to how you go about getting a beta, usually just ask them. They're nice people and they don't bite, promise. If it's to how you get the work to them...depends on the beta. Some use email, some prefer DocX.

Well, your beta-reader kind of has to stick to your schedule, to an extent - they can't read something they don't have! Some do the job quickly and have it back almost immediately. Others may take a couple of days with it - they are more thorough; though that doesn't mean a quick beta is a bad beta, more that they tend to fix the technical and not the characters.

You send the beta however much you want them to check - if you only started with one halfway through a story (not advisable) then you might send them everything, but you could simply send chapters as and when they're written.

Hope that helped a bit :)

>>3 That works to an extent, but if you didn't understand why the typos were typos first time around (say with some homophones and apostrophes) then it's not really helped. With the situation you use, it can help, but you still might remember your reasoning from first time around, particularly if it's something you relate to real life.

>>4 It took me four years once. With a story I wrote just as I left primary school, it took until about a month ago before I could read how bad it was.

6 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-05-06 14:17 ID:hvDRxKFu

Thankyou everyone for your input into this thread. Its very helpful:) I think I'll be purchasing myself a beta lol!

7 Name: Aislin : 2010-05-09 11:55 ID:IOLQJEII

I'm a beta myself, and if you want to be one these are some guidelines I made for myself (what I think a beta should be able to do):

1: Finish as quick as possible, not making the "client" (XD) wait for too long.
2: Have a good understanding of the language
3: No changing sentences! Or anything else that will change the writers style.
4: Point the mistakes out; for example mistakes in red, corrections in green, and any remarks in blue (that's what I use)
5: Give the writer tips (see above) about the story/chapter. Not just a "good chappie!" but real tips about the story.

8 Name: Fee : 2010-05-09 12:18 ID:TlRFraUc

>>7 On point three - but what if the sentence doesn't make sense/doesn't fit/is entirely pointless? You can change sentences without interrupting the writer's style - it's more about how you change it.

9 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-05-09 14:32 ID:LF5j6wsK

Nice system you have got going there, thats sure to help the writer to learn what it is that they keep doing wrong.

I agree with all of that and with Fee about if a sentance doesn't make sense you should change it as long as you don't impact on the writers style.

Well I don't think I quolify for that! (yeah just look at my spelling... and im trying) :( I would be no use to anyone.

Um... so next question how do you find yourself a beta? I'm no doupt in desperate need! I tryed looking and couldn't figure it out.

10 Name: Bola : 2010-05-09 15:13 ID:wylEuHNW

Ah but there is a link on FanFiction for that:

You can also look on the site Perfect Imagination. Everyone has got to pass a test to be a beta on there. I'm a beta myself on I never had anyone complain. I never passed the test - so you really can be sure that these people are GOOD in the technicities. I however must admit that I used a beta on there only once. It'll be the last time, too. She changed nothing, didn't even try. Being good with technicities doesn't necessarily mean that they can't be too lazy to give a fuck.

11 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-05-10 13:26 ID:i8ubRMWb

Ok thanks. I just had a look and is it possible for me to search people who will do particular fanfics or authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon's dark hunter series, or do I have to siv through all of the people till I find one suitable?

Thankyou Bola you've been a great help! :D

12 Name: Bola : 2010-05-11 09:37 ID:wylEuHNW

You can search in particular, but you can search for 'All movies' and 'All TV Shows' etcetera as well. :)

13 Name: Maleficent Angel : 2010-05-12 13:28 ID:TsfMexjz

I have had two people beta-read for me in the past. Both were readers of my fanfics that I'd spoken to via email etc. for a while before they started beta reading. I'd read their fanfics and liked their writing styles (and, of course, checked their command of English!). It takes a lot of trust to send work to a beta reader, but actually I think they're invaluable - a number of silly mistakes have been rectified before posting as a result of good beta reading!

14 Name: RayRay : 2010-05-13 11:38 ID:IKXPA7Ko

>>7 I've beta read two of the 5 chapters I was given recently, and honestly, I left such a long note at the end, along with countless pointers and tips throughout the chapters.

I should probably point out that I'm doing a rework, not just Beta-reading. Doing-over the story almost completely to help her find a flow to the story. It's hard work but fairly gratifying.

15 Name: Shiro Ookami : 2010-06-02 07:01 ID:PY+oPRpX

I used to have three real life friends beta reading for me, one who knew the fandoms, one mainly for the style and one for intricate details (mainly dealing with heavy trauma), the thing that worked the best for me was msn, after I send the files to them we would discuss what was good and what was bad about it but I'd guess that would be a personal opinion.
Sadly they all vanished from the online life so now I just ask opinions from a few other friends.

As for beta-ing only doing it for one story and that is probably the only one I'll ever do, being quite familiar with his writing style (through his stories, forums and msn) the only things I would point out though is weird sentence construction and if he is delving to deep into technical terms which would make it harder to read for an a-technical person like myself.

What I'm saying is try to find someone who is familiar with your own style it defenately helps.

What also helps is a forum where you can freely discuss ideas and stuff, I was in a community a few years back and we used to discuss a lot of ideas, why it would work or why it would not work, sadly this forum died a long long time ago and it's not a viable option anymore

16 Name: DuxAtrum : 2010-06-04 09:51 ID:GdP9LqLs

Having a beta is often quite a personal thing—if you're the type that only likes to give your readers the best, you're letting someone see the uncorrected, unedited version of your work, and that requires a level of trust. In addition, everyone has a beta style they like best (to use themselves, or for people to use on their fics).

My style isn't for everyone, but for curiosity's sake, this is how I beta (when I beta, which is rarely):

1. Preliminary skim of the story to get a feel for things, and to avoid making stupid annotations if, say, something ambiguous gets cleared up later on.

2. In-depth reading. This is the important stuff! I find that the method that works best for me is:

a) highlighting all mistakes (whether they're technical, stylistic, to do with characterisation, etc.) in red. I no longer directly change things—pointing out what's wrong and why is more useful than just changing it directly.

b) I add in my notes in (bolded or coloured, and in brackets, so they're easy to see). I explain everything I've highlighted. Every technical mistake, every ambiguous or convoluted sentence, every error in canon or characterization, and things that I'm simply not fond of. If I don't think it works, there's a fair chance the reader won't, either.

c) I also add in notes on things I like. Telling people what's right is as important as telling them what's wrong, yadda yadda—it's cliché, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

d) A final read-through to catch anything I might have missed, then I add general comments (as in, "Good in general but could use a little work on the blah"), then send it back.

... As you may infer, I don't do the whole 'kid gloves' thing.

17 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-06-11 10:31 ID:q0kV+ZQO

I beta for people but after a while they quit their fics and leave me hanging:(
But anyway, if you want to be a beta on you need to conform to a few regulations (like the number of things you have written and such).
If you're looking for a beta, follow the advise of Bola.

How I beta:

  1. First I get to know the fandom if I don't already know it (or refresh my mind if I do)
  2. Then a global reading.
  3. In depth, changing mistakes in grammar, spelling, structure, etc.
  4. Another read to see if I missed something.
  5. Some comments for the author and a few tips.

Before I beta I first want to know what they plan to do with the story and what genre it has to be, that way I can avoid discussions about the goal of the fic.

18 Name: PersonOfAStrangeOrigin : 2010-07-12 00:31 ID:DxSjUZ8z

I think the key to knowing whether a beta is good or not is by the way they fill out their beta profile (for instance if your on and how they write when you correspond back and forth. If the person's spelling and grammar feels wrong to you or they misspell words that you know of, you can be pretty sure that their not the beta for you. I agree with fan-to-fiction with how they beta. You should definitely make sure your beta and you are on the same wave length or one of you will get left behind in translation.

19 Name: PersonOfAStrangeOrigin : 2010-07-12 00:32 ID:DxSjUZ8z

I've been writing fanfiction for over 4 years now and I still mess up. For instance in my last post. Geez, I hate it when that happens.

20 Name: Dianna Phantom27 : 2010-07-13 11:32 ID:6Ie3It4l

Does any1 know a beta-reader?! I help help with grammer and spelling badly! Please tell me if you do!

21 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-18 13:26 ID:65iZoFH6

>>20 I am a beta-reader.

22 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-07-20 05:58 ID:HnmOVRjV

fan-to-fiction you sound like the perfect beta reader. I managed to get a beta, she sounded great and we spoke alot about what she could do for me etc etc... The when it came down to it, shes not that great! She is still beta reading for me, but when I sent her a nice long message detailing how I wanted the story to end, asking for her advice I got nothing. Sucks!

23 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-20 08:16 ID:Z8REM4pI

>>22 You can always ask other beta's to reread the work or just discuss the stories you have going on.

I always did that. Have two beta's, since I think that one opinion isn't enough.

24 Name: DuxAtrum : 2010-07-21 07:17 ID:GdP9LqLs

>>20, >>22: Pssst. Word to the wise—never get a beta who uses apostrophes to form plurals.

Anyway, if you're looking for a beta, FFNet has an entire section, broken up by fandom; the link to it is in the bar at the top. If an individual user is also a beta-reader, there's a link near the top of their writer profile that makes it switch to their beta profile.

It's sometimes hard to tell (especially if you're not so great at English and can't spot mistakes in others' writing), but in general the best-quality betas will be those that profess themselves to be harsh.

Also, >>23: Bob would like to have a word with you.

25 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-21 14:50 ID:8Zps5kLP

>>24 Well, then I think a lot of people are being taught wrongly in the use of apostrophes.

Or Bob might be wrong, who knows?

26 Name: Anonymous : 2010-07-21 15:50 ID:vqt7JMF8

He isn't.

27 Name: Anonymous : 2010-07-21 15:57 ID:vqt7JMF8

Also, don't pretend a qualified English teacher ever taught you that nonsense. At least have the candour to admit that it's your own screw-up.

28 Name: DuxAtrum : 2010-07-22 02:50 ID:GdP9LqLs

>>25 Uuuuuuh yeah your English teachers might have screwed up by NOT teaching you the right way to apostrophize, but there's no way in hell any English teacher would teach you that you need to add an apostrophe to make a plural. That's one of the clearest signs of illiteracy.

Basically, what Anon up there said.

29 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-07-22 04:14 ID:HnmOVRjV

DuxAtrum, just out of curiosity... because im clueless, whats with the apostrophe after the word?
Eg: Others'
Thats not me saying your wrong, im just wondering why/when you would use it?

30 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-22 05:03 ID:6Fumo3Mw


No really, my teacher taught me that. Guess he was wrong (he is Dutch so maybe that was the problem).

But hey, you're never too late to learn from mistakes. Now I know what I was doing wrong so this will improve my own writing.

Thanks DuxAtrum

31 Name: Anonymous : 2010-07-22 05:57 ID:vqt7JMF8

@29- The apostrophe after a word comes when the word is possessive, but also a plural. For example:

The cat's food = The food belonging to the cat.

The cats' food = The food belonging to the cats.

32 Name: DuxAtrum : 2010-07-22 06:07 ID:GdP9LqLs

To add to what Anon said, >>29, you also use an apostrophe for contractions (e.g. when you turn "do not" into "don't"). It indicates that there's a dropped letter (or dropped letters) there.

So "what is" becomes "what's", "it is/has" becomes "it's", etc.

On the other hand, speaking of possessives, an apostrophe is only necessary when we're using a name or a noun to indicate possession (e.g. the cat's food—'cat' is a noun). An apostrophe is NEVER used with possessive pronouns (e.g. mine, yours, hers, etc.) This is because those words already indicate possession, so we don't need the apostrophe to indicate possession.

Also, >>30, really? Wow. But did he teach you that it's that way in English, or in Dutch? Because the rules of punctuation do vary greatly between languages.

33 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-22 13:23 ID:Gh5aA2pJ

He taught me in Dutch, but since my English teacher didn't teach us anything regarding the apostrophe I thought it was the same.
Guess not.

34 Name: captinifeelwozey : 2010-07-22 14:50 ID:HnmOVRjV

Anoyingly I had a Dutch English teacher aswell, she would put dots above her Y's or Ys :\ lol.

Thank you >>31 and DuxAtrum your examples were brilliant! All clear now. Except for the Y's/Ys thing.

35 Name: loloxoxo98 : 2010-07-23 06:46 ID:MpEndgjC

Being a Beta is hard but fun! Super fun at least I think because it's like a sneak peek only you're makin' tiny adjustments to the story for the writer. Also finding a Beta is easy, it's keeping one that is hard because they're just like regular people with lives and sometimes they may just forget about their other obligations. It always helps to just remind your Beta that you're still alive and in need of services

36 Name: Lady Hyena : 2010-07-29 19:08 ID:VV9C+WCe

I personally aviod betas. Dont get me wrong its nice to have someone help but thats the problem. they have lives too and i hate waiting for them to send the fic back. they can be helpful but i dont think its worth the wait when they only change a thing here and there(they used to do alot more)

I do beta tho. key to this is to know your writing style, know basic story flow, grammar and puncutations. find out the info on the fic in question and if its not your style there is no WAY you can make it work. if you and the bete-e in question have different writing styles you will clash and fail.

Dont take on to much either! i limit myself to 7 people. I make sure there gonna stick with the fic, that they know where there going with it so they dont just say forget it. Nothing worse then forgetten fics, right?

and the last thing, and probably the most improtant thing i keep in mind is: be honest. No matter how nice they are or how close ive gotten i keep that in mind. If the ideas been done i tell them, if its OOC or mary sue it tell them. I do help them fix it but its better they hear it form there beta and not their reviews/veiws in a flame message.

I also give time limits to myself so do have time for all them. I tell my beta-e when i think ill have it done and when to expect it and if im late to give mea reminder.

Lady Hyena-chan~

37 Name: DuxAtrum : 2010-07-30 12:33 ID:GdP9LqLs

Lady, if you write your stories like you write your posts, I would contend that it is indeed worth the wait to have your stuff beta'd.

Incidentally, if your writing skills here are indicative of your skills as a beta readers, those poor unfortunate souls would probably be better off with no beta reader at all.

Also, "they used to do alot [sic] more"? Look at that! As if all betas were the same. You probably just haven't found the right (read: a competent enough) beta. No two betas are the same, but the better ones will give you lots of detailed concrit if you specify that's what you want.

Also, as to honesty: well, yeah, that's the whole reason you're betaing for whomever your betaing for: because they want an honest opinion. That said, there's honesty and then there's brutal honesty. One is saying when something's wrong or doesn't work... with tact. Trying not to step on toes or offend. The other is calling 'em exactly how you see 'em.

Different writers will want different things, but if they don't want you to point out errors/ways to correct things, they don't really want a beta—what they want is an extra reviewer at their command who will lavish them with praise.

38 Name: Bola : 2010-07-31 02:54 ID:Dpk4Oyu4

I agree with you, DuxAtrum.

I could have been insulted by your post, Lady, if I was insulted easily.

No two betas are the same indeed. There are quite some beta who indeed just change typose/spelling, and don't care about anything else. And it doesn't matter where you find them. Perfect Imagination is one of the sites known to accept betas only who have passed the test. You should take on a test there, and get at least 80%. I myself took it three times, and never passed. I once got a beta from there, and she really sucked. She just changed one typo, and that was it, for my piece of 16 pages! I myself knew there were mistakes in grammar, but had no idea how to change them.

If I look at things I wrote years back, I do have a hard time to correct it myself, because I have changed my writing wtyle, and I would like to think it has gotten better, so it is hard for me to think the way I did back then.

I'm surely not the best beta - Hell, English is just my fourth language! I however do the effort not only to indicate mistakes with different colors per kind of mistake (grammar, spelling, punctuation, and if necessary realism (like when someone describes a gun that carries thirteen bullets, whereas the type he/she described maximally holds six), but do my best to say why it is wrong, and why it should be corrected that way.

I even give suggestions, when I think this or that could make the story better, even when what is written isn't necessarily incorrect.

I listen carefully to what the writer says. If he/she asks me to look at the end and asks me for ways how to make it better, I'll give that a bit more attention and give suggestions in the doc, and in the mail I sent.

I send the writers regular updates with how it is going with their story (at least every other day), so that they don't have to worry. I too always mention they can contact me whenever they want about whatever they want.

There are quite some betas like me, actually. Minus the ridiculous color code, though. I myself specifically search for them, and I always succeed in finding one sooner or later.

A rather good beta can adapt to writing styles. It may take a few lines to get into it, but it isn't that impossible as you might think. What is a writing style anyways?

39 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-07-31 12:16 ID:pl1CPcu6

>>38 English is my third language. So I'm also the type of beta who might not be able to spot every mistake, which is why I always tell the people I beta for to take on two betas.

40 Name: Bola : 2010-07-31 14:07 ID:Dpk4Oyu4

>>39 I do too. :)

41 Name: Anonymous : 2010-07-31 20:16 ID:vqt7JMF8

... I just realised that the 36th poster's name was 'Lady'. I thought you two were imitating Columbo's manner of speech. And that didn't strike me as an unusual occurrence, or even one that required an explanation.

What the hell is wrong with my brain?

42 Name: Vaneskera : 2010-12-25 22:24 ID:3FwFCFrs

I have a beta and I beta for one person. My beta checks my work and helps me with any wonky sentence structure, but thats it. I have my best friend who I tell everything too who helps with plot and stuff. My beta and I aren't extremely close, its extremely formal but it works.

Being a beta for the other person was a totally different matter entirely. I let her decide how everything's going to work, and I help with plot holes, character defects, and technical stuff. I'm also much closer with her.

43 Name: ripan : 2010-12-30 18:02 ID:jHtqJVtQ

I asked a question/advice on another thread about betas. Good advice but still have not found anyone willing to beta for me.
I had thought to put in a plea on my bio on fanfic?
I do spend a lot of time and care reworking my fics but mistakes are bound to slip through.
My stories are, I believe, not unpopular but I am always trying to improve and a little help would go a long way.

44 Name: fan-to-fiction : 2010-12-31 10:57 ID:qxq1NkVf

>>43 What is your profile on

45 Name: ripan : 2010-12-31 11:31 ID:jHtqJVtQ

I spent near an hour last night going through more beta profiles. I have made contact with someone who (whom?) I like their writing and I have had a reply. So fingers crossed we can work together.
Oh, its, aliencatt on

46 Name: ripan : 2010-12-31 11:52 ID:jHtqJVtQ

my own I know...laugh
(someone who's writing I like.) sounds better... smile

47 Name: enchantedsleeper : 2012-09-28 12:35 ID:f203Qe+m


Except it should be "whose" and not "who's". -grin-

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