Whether you’re a seasoned editor, a fledgling writer, or lover of books, your input can help (even if you’re pretty sure you don’t know what you’re doing).
I found a great post – actually it was five posts – on Throwing Up Words that listed ways for writer’s to edit their own work on. The same list can be applied as a beta reader. When I went back to look for it (and to provide you with a helpful link), I couldn’t find it. Luckily for you, I’ve condensed the list into the following points:
- Is the writing clear? As a beta you should be looking for repetitive words, overuse of pronouns, and sentences of varying length. If it doesn’t make sense to you, an agent will never look at it.
- Does it waste the reader’s time? Every word should move the plot toward the climax. That doesn’t mean it has to rush at break-neck pace, there need to be highs and lows, but it should move.
- Are the characters real? Does a four-year-old talk like a teenager? Does dialogue sound like real conversation? Can you personally relate with the people you’re reading about? Are sub-characters too similar?
- Is it full of worthless words? Just, like, that, well, and very are easy to pick out and eliminate. Adverbs should be avoided, use a stronger verb instead. Are you seeing “was” a lot? If so, the writing is not active.
- Does it follow the traditional plot structure? A story should start at a logical place (preferably as close to the end as possible). The climax must solve the problem, but the story can’t end there. A good story has a strong resolution.
Demetria Lunetta also had a couple of great posts on critiquing others work. You can find them here.
Beta reading is fun and enjoyable. Something you suggest may make a huge impact – and maybe help a story get into print!