Happy first Sunday of the new year! I hope all is going well for you all. Last month I sent out my latest draft of The Heir, the Prince, and the Traitor to several betas and the feedback has been trickling in.
Beta readers are awesome – if you can find the right ones. I admit, at first I was really scared about sending my manuscript off to people last year – especially people I didn’t know. But honestly, it was the best decision I ever made. These people didn’t know me and so they could give me good, honest feedback about my work vs. family or friends who only commented, “Good job!” or “It’s really good!” It’s nice to hear that, but then again it’s not very helpful.
But you as the writer, what do you ask your beta readers once they’ve read your work or what do you want them to look for when they are reading your work? After reading countless blogs (and I’ll be sure to note a few of them at the end) and looking up questions to ask my beta readers, I made a list of questions that have helped me when it is time to beta, and each question or set of questions are in a separate category because categories are awesome!
Feel free to take these questions if you think they’ll be helpful to you!
- From the reader’s point of view, did you enjoy reading this story? If not, why?
- At which point did you think to yourself, “Okay, now the story has started!”
- Were the first paragraph and first page compelling? Did they make you want to keep reading? If not, what was the problem?
- Were you confused by anything in the beginning? What was going on? Where scenes were taking place?
- Did the story continue to hold your interest through the first few chapters? Or was there a point where your interest started to lag?
- Of all the characters you read about, which one(s) did you think didn’t really fit or contribute to the story?
- Could you relate to the main character? Did you feel her/his pain, joy, fears, worry, excitement? Could you relate to the other characters?
- Do the characters feel real and three-dimensional, with distinct voices, flaws, and virtues?
- Could the “bad guys” be nastier or more interesting? How?
- Who is your favorite/least favorite character(s)? Why?
- What aspects are especially likable or unlikable about the protagonist?
- Did the dialogue sound natural to you?
- Was there any dialogue that made you cringe? If so, where?
- Are characters’ voices consistent and distinct from one another?
- Is there an appropriate mix of dialogue and narrative?
- Were you able to visualize where and when the story is taking place?
- Did the setting pull you in and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
- About the setting, was there too much or too little information given about the world/place?
Plot, Pacing, Scenes
- Did the story drag in parts? If so, where?
- Are there enough stakes and/or tension throughout to make it a “page-turner”?
- Which parts were exciting and should be elaborated on with more details?
- Which parts bored you and should be compressed or even taken out?
- What parts resonated with you and/or moved you emotionally?
- Does every scene add to and seem important to the story? If there wasn’t a scene you believe didn’t add to the story, which one was it?
- Is the story free of information dumps or backstory that slow the pace of the story?
- Could you SEE what the characters looked like clearly? If not, who?
- Do the details enhance rather than distract from the story?
- If you went to that world/place in real life, would you recognize everything?
- Do you think the writing style fits the story and the genre?
- Is the narrative voice consistent?
- How was the ending? Did it feel rushed? Did you want to read more?
- Was the ending satisfying?
- Did you “see it coming” or were you surprised by the progress of the story?
(Optional) Suggestions on how to improve TITLE OF WORK? Areas I need to work on in terms of writing?
I hope this was helpful 🙂 Have a great week, everyone!