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January 16th, 2008

[info]accio_arse08:07 am - How to Beta
I've been having a discussion with [info]artistsonly about beta, and how valuable it is. Here are a few of my favorite links.

1. By [info]innerslytherin - Beta Reading

Specific feedback is more helpful than saying something is "good" or that "I like it."

Lots of good, practical, step by step advice on how to do or ask for a beta. Also a list of further beta links (one of which is below).

2. By [info]schemingreader - The Helpful Beta Reader

If you are the writer--you got free editing. The proper response is "thank you." I think you should probably warn your beta if you aren't going to do everything she suggests, so that you don't wind up making her feel like she worked for nothing. But aside from that--"thank you."

A good rundown on some of the different aspects to doing a beta - SPAG, canon, characterisation, POV, description and probably most important of all, encouragement.

3. By [info]laeladair - The Beta Reader - Unmasked

In general I recommend having at least two or more betas look over each story you write before it’s released to the public. In the best case scenario this gives you a few different opinions to draw from, and in the worst case it gives you a backup if one (or more) of your betas is too busy to get back to you.

Not all of your beta’s suggestions are going to be good. In fact, a great many of them will probably miss the mark — DON’T BE DISMISSIVE.... What you want to stay away from is scaring them into censoring their own feedback. Beta-readers are just as self-conscious as authors are and don’t like to be ridiculed or harassed for their opinions. My recommendation is to take everything they say with a smile as if you were going to go home that instant and act on every suggestion they gave you. Then, at a later point, you can decide what you will and will not use. Not only will this encourage your betas to be open and honest with you at all times, but it will keep you from talking about the story and influencing what they have to say through debate or discussion. Be honest and humble.

A nice long entry with lots of tips. I especially related to this one:

Post-criticism - Seethe in silence

The best thing you can do after getting your critique is, that’s right, nothing. Don’t act on it right away and, for the love of God, don’t respond with a comment, email, or IM unless you are 150% sure nothing negative or defensive is going to come across. Some people can transition flawlessly from the firing squad to the healing process but my guess is most people reading this can’t, myself included.

Oh, me neither. It usually takes me a couple of days before I'm out of my post-beta shellshock. But it's always worth it in the end.

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