Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by BetaReaderIndex, Nov 14, 2005.
*obviously bumping thread up*
Sorry about the lack of Feburary update; Idri's out of commission for a while and we've got no clue where Jen is, so Myri and I are trying to hash out the next update
Giving this a friendly bump up. Oh, and I'm on the Before Beta reader list, so I can take a bit of work in that era.
Thanks The reason we didn't use you before was that we were in the middle of awards, and you (and all the mods) seemed to be rather busy
Given the similarities between this and the [link=http://boards.theforce.net/Message.aspx?topic=23267779&brd=10304&start=23403145]Concrit Thread[/link], I thought it might be a good idea if both threads linked to each other. This thread is what some of the people seeking concrit are looking for and the concrit thread is what some of the people seeking betas are looking for (based on PMs I've receieved).
Just my two pennies.
I'd like to welcome our new Indexer, WynssaStarflare!!! *hugs*
Sorry for our lack of updates reciently; life has been hectic for all of us. Luckily we've just added WynssaStarflare to our ranks, and she has time
Instead of the usual update (since Myra and Nat aren't creative under pressure) we're haveing a Share Your Stories month. Tell us about your experiences as a beta--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hilarious. Share your experiences with other people who have been in your situation. You can tell us any ancedote or just sum up your experiences. YOU MAY NOT NAME NAMES!!! We don't want feelings to get hurt.
As per the rules of the Index, you are not allowed to post requests in the thread. please edit your post and PM the sock with your information--saga, characters, genre, etc.
Okay, I guess I'll start . . .
I usually have pretty good experiences wit being a beat. My first time was when I was still less than a year 'old' and I started doing it for a friend. My only problem is that I want to help everyone--if there is ever a request on these boards for help of any kind, I'm drawn to it
There was one time, though, when I was asked to beta a far-future fic. This person sent me about 30 pages of summary to read, and it took me FOREVER (and since I'm not really into far future and it was a summary and not actual story, it was hard to get through). i PMed him my suggestions, heard from him once, and then he disappeared. I was really annoyed because I'd just read a 30 page summary and now I wan't going to be editing the actual story.
And just an idle question after beta-ing a few things....does everyone use Word?
I have it on my computer and I use it at work, but I mostly use WordPerfect at home. Now I feel like if I send something to someone I have to export it to Word to make sure it can be read.
I usually just get a PM then copy it into Word because it sometimes catches mistakes that I don't.
I copy into word because it lets me measure my progress--I can go "Okay, I've betaed 5 of the 8 pages. I'm doing great!" Otherwise, I keep thinking "is this done yet?" and get distracted.
For me, I ask. I have copies of all four major word processors (Word, WordPerfect, Lotus, OpenOffice) so which one someone else uses doesn't bother me, and in a worse case scenario, I'll just save the file as RTF, which solves the problem altogether.
but personally I like WORD because I like to use the editing features built into it, such as track changes, comments and highlighting.
My question is how many people use those features while betaing?
My first beta disappeared after my first post, possibly the ammount of red she used caused her to panic.
I spelled Qui-Gon wrong and didn't have a scooby-doo. All hail the Beta!
I don't use one now unfortunately, I could certainly do with one.
My beta, Spiritofeowyn, is so marvelously patient with me, whether it's her putting up with a post that she considers to be unalterable or one where I make no sense whatsoever...
I have Word at work but not at home (just have the Appleworks program that came with my Mac), so I try to do as much betaing as possible at work. I find the Comments function to be extremely helpful, because I tend to break corrections into two categories: Simple things that can be fixed easily, such as missing commas, quotation marks inside punctuation instead of outside, etc., and more complex issues such as syntax, misplaced modifiers, continuity issues, etc. I usually just make the simple changes in red and use the Comments function for the more complicated stuff. So far this seems to have worked pretty well (I haven't gotten any complaints -- at least, not yet).
I have to admit that 'track changes' is awfully handy, though the first time I ran into it I didn't realize what it was and couldn't figure out why I couldn't delete anything in a file someone had sent me. Ooooh, that was irritating. Most of the time just putting the corrections in red or blue text is enough to make them stand out for me.
I'm very basic about my beta-ing. I use Word, put all changes in bold text, and put my comments in bold+italics text. I've considered using the comment function in Word, but I've found that it is a bit easier to put it in text. That allows me to keep particular words/take some out/replace some at my leisure without making too much of a mess. I also tend to write miniature novels for my praises and constructive criticism, so it works better to keep it in text... I can just imagine Japor_Angel screeching when she saw pages of red comment bubbles connected by a web of little red lines. I only do beta work in Word--I passionately dislike using pm's, since I use markup codes like a fiend and they get to be a pain when betaing something lengthy.
Speaking of which... I have a vignette to beta. *scurries off*
Unless requested, I just make the grammatical changes without bloding the or pointing them out, but I use red comments on big ones and let the author fix them.
Do you ask a beta to review things more than once? Like if you make a TON of mistakes do you ask them to look at it again after you fixed it? I've offered to do that a few times but no one every takes me up on it . . .
I'm enough of a perfectionist that I read my own stuff through before I give it to a beta, just to be sure that I'm happy with it and that there aren't any huge glaring letters, like Word autocorrecting the name of one of the main characters (which, thankfully, has never happened to me).
But when it come to actual plot and such, my beta has read things more than once. She'll sometimes read it, tell me what to fix, and then I send it to her again, so that I can be sure that what needed to be fixed actually was.
I'm going to give this a small bump and say that we are always in need of betas. I totally understand that life is hectic, but we appreciate any betaing that anyone can do, because betas are good and should be highly respected.
So thanks to everyone who has sent in their information, and hopefully there are more wonderful people like you out there!
I thought I'd weigh in on the use of Word and betaing in general. The advantage of the track changes function is that it's easier for the author. When the story gets to them with changes inserted as a suggestion, or comments are posted it's a simple matter for the author to accept or reject changes and to delete comments without having to select large sections of text. In my opinion, when you give feedback to a writer, it needs to be, first and foremost, useful to the writer. Being told that you've made mistakes in your writing is tough enough as it is, you don't need to make it hard for them as well. As such, I tend to suggest that I get sent a Word file so I can use these features. So far, that's worked well.
GAV's process works great. She's beta'd for me for quite a while now!
I wanted to pull this out because I think it's a big deal. Notice that I said above that a beta should want to make life easy on the writer. The opposite is also true. It's not easy to make corrections. I've been sent material to beta that was clearly nothing more than a rough draft. Now some people's rought drafts are better than other people's fully polished work, but that's not the point.
I spend a significant amount of time doing my betas because, as I said above, the feedback should be useful to the writer. If I get a polished work to beta, it probably takes me about 10 mins per page in word to do. That's a function of me typing comments in (good and bad), as well as checking for grammar, word choice, underlying meanings, etc. When I get something that even the author knows is unpolished, it takes me about 30-40 mins per page, depending on how poorly written it is. So you can imagine what it's like to get 20 pages of unpolished work to beta! What impact does that have? In the last month, I've gotten 10 requests to beta (not including my regular stuff) and have been able to accept three. Among those, I end up taking upwards of a week or so, at least, to get back to people. That's frustrating for everyone involved, I'm sure.
Nothing would make me happier than to read through something and my only comment be "Brilliant! Post now!" Given that I've never written anything myself that would meet that criteria, I don't really expect it. Still, I wish people would take the time to send in their polished work for betaing--something they are proud of and are looking to that last gut-check before they post. If you find yourself cringing when you send something to somone for a beta, you probably need to go look at it again.
Side note: There are exceptions. I'm far more understanding of people who send me stuff and English is not their first language. A little warning in that department helps a great deal.