What to Have Ready for Your Beta Reader/Writing Partner

Your searching is over! You have a person happy to look at your manuscript. A person ready to give you the best possible advice on what can be improved and praise the good stuff. Now you are eager to give your new reader the printed pages or email them a copy. Or shouldn’t you be in such a hurry? Here’s a short list of things to think about.

Edited document

It’s polite to send something readable. Therefore, go through your text again before sending and eliminate typos and grammatical errors. Are you not a professional editor and you are not friends with commas? Chill, no one should expect perfection. But the spell checker is a great thing to use. During your final read, you may notice missing words, repetitions, unfinished sentences, dots instead of commas… In short, do your personal best.

Why? Because it allows the reader to focus on the story and stylistics. The typos or double punctuation will not drain the reader’s attention. The less distracting nonsense the better the feedback.

Basic questions

You know what is easy to write for you, where you feel that the whole thing is getting stuck, and what part of your story is really problematic. Don’t be afraid to send a few questions along with your work. Even your reader may welcome it.

Question examples:

What is your favorite chapter moment and why?

Does the character’s reaction on page sixty make sense?

Is it clear who this character really is at this point?

Does this place feel funny or scary?

 …

In short, don’t hesitate to ask. If someone is reading your work in progress for you, use this opportunity. It is always good to find more readers. If one praises you for something and the other two recommend a change, you can discuss these different views with them and find a compromise.

Brief summary

This is very useful if you are working on an extensive manuscript or a series. A very brief summary of each chapter can help even you navigate through your story. You can also include the details of exactly what you tried to achieve in the given part of the story, or side notes about possible additions and changes. For example, you can come up with a great new character in the middle of your story. The notes will help you come back and quickly decide where you can mention this new character in the previous chapters.

This summary can be sent with the original manuscript after your new reader finishes your story. Thanks to this, you can discuss everything in detail. 

If you have a series and you have found a new reader for book three, the short summaries of the previous works are almost a must. Maybe you want to test whether book three makes sense on its own, and the previous events are well summed up there. That is also a possibility. But you can still send the contents of the previous books later.

Other additional material

Do you have a video link or pictures that show the atmosphere you were trying to capture? Your reader can tell you whether you achieved this goal. Do you have a map? A short glossary of important terms? Do you dream that your work will one day hit the screens and so you describe your characters as some real actors? Send everything relevant! Let inspiration and mutual support flow. Do you have other habits? What do you send most often?

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