The first time I ever heard the term “beta-reader” was in a conference workshop where a fellow participant mentioned it to the presenter.
He said, that he was “at the stage of sending his manuscript to beta-readers.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I’d never heard the term before and I’d been going to conferences for years and thought I was up on the jargon.
Well, clearly I missed this one.
This “beta” thing obviously wasn’t just the second letter of the Greek alphabet, it was something I’d need to research.
Here’s what I learned:
Beta means “second” which is cool because that still leaves me as the “Alpha” or first (hear me roar). When you apply such concepts to writing, or in this case reading, it’s all about another set of eyes—the ‘second’ opinion if you will.
Once you’re finished drafting your story and have done a rewrite or two to get it to where you think you want it, it’s a good idea to share it with critical second (or beta) readers because they’ll be able to spot things that you don’t.
–Holes in the storyline
And, anything else you want them to watch for.
Those beta-readers are your second set of eyes on a piece of work that has become a part of you.
They’re really very important and if used properly, can make your writing even better. I’m prepping the do’s and don’t list for you to consider when choosing a beta reader. You definitely want to choose the right ones.
To Alpha-Read simply doesn’t work because we impose our own creative images into what’s on the page. If we’re the creators it becomes a part of us and we can’t decipher as to whether or not the things in our imaginations are translating well onto the page.
We also correct our own words while we read because we know what it’s supposed to say.
For me, after I’ve done a rewrite or two, I’m so sick of reading the same stuff that it all becomes a blur.
So send in the Betas.
I get it now.
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