I've joined a few FB writing groups, looking for feedback on my MS, which is getting closer to being ready for another round of beta-reading. It'll be my second, and I don't want to have the same people read it who read it before (they're too familiar with the story), so I'm hunting.
I've offered to read, as a way of finding beta-readers for my MS. It's a way of interviewing someone, before asking them to read. From their writing, I can tell, "This person knows their craft and can offer meaningful feedback," or "This person is on my level, or just beginning to learn to write, and I may not get as useful feedback from them."
Surprisingly, what I'm finding in these groups is a general confusion about readers, and many use the terms "critique partner" and "beta-reader" interchangeably.
My alpha reader is my amazing, most wonderful husband. He's read the story more times than anyone, and he's my harshest critique. When my plot points don't meet up, he scratches his head and points them out. When something is unnecessary, he tells me. We argue, but I'm learning he's right, every. Single. Time.
Critique partners see the work next. Now, here's where I distinguish between critiquing a work, and beta-reading a work. Whether I critique or beta-read depends on the quality of the manuscript I'm handed. Some manuscripts have been absolutely stellar -- the author displays great grasp of storytelling, excellent pacing, fantastic characters, equally fantastic world building, and there's really very little for me to remark on, except my impressions as a reader. Those I feel I'm beta reading: "This is how the story made me feel a reader..."
Others need a lot more help, and I respond with more of a critique response, every 50 pages or so, and I try to follow up and offer to read rewrites. These are very detailed, with examples taken directly from the text. We're all at different stages of our craft, and we all learn the craft differently. As I tell my two kiddos, "There's something you can learn from every teacher -- even if it's just how NOT to teach."
Once the MS is ready, I'll post my expectations for beta-readers again, but that could be a while.
I've still got words to cut, and I'm in the last six chapters. Once I've finished this round of editing, I think it'll be ready for a second round of beta-reading.
The "painful" cuts I still have to make -- story content -- to get down to my target of 80,000-85,000 words. I'll explain how I plan to decide what to cut in next week's post.