Forum: Being a Beta Reader

Discussing: Finding time for adequate comments

Finding time for adequate comments

Argh! I tell you, I need a Time Machine.

The biggest thing a beta gives is their time. I know I have been a horrible beta reader the last two months because of time constraints.

This is aggravating for me because I like reading other people's work and giving feed-back on it. Even limiting the number of in-depth readings I am willing to do has not provided me with as much free time as I would like to give.

What kind of comments are most useful to you as authors? Is it better to have one beta or several? To have a closed interaction with a trusted reader, or to throw it open to a group, as through these discussions?

Ang

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Well, for me, I'm very worried about the actual writing itself, in terms of style, flow, etc. so any comments on those I always appreciate. I like feedback on characterization, and whether something is realistic or not. I also like suggestions for what might work better, or just suggestions for future chapters.

That said, though I'm grateful for any feedback, whether it's just a short e-mail informing me of a careless typo, or if it's something commenting on an aspect of plot or anything else. Even the most casual observations may help an author with something, so I've never been picky about how in-depth an analysis has to be. But I suppose that just depends on the author.

~Aralanthiriel

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

I value a beta who proofreads, but even more important to me is someone to make general comments like "moves too fast" "where are they?" "motivation isn't clear" etc.

A trusted reader is a jewel, but general discussions can take a story in new directions. Having not written that much yet, I feel I can use all the beta I can get. That said, I will get more inspired by a beta who isn't trying to make my style into theirs, but rather to get my work to be the best it can.

I don't think I have enough work to start a discussion yet. I wonder about a discussion thread for stories of nonprolific authors. Anyone?

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Go ahead and give yourself a discussion! It's only a database record, after all, and relatively painless to do. Start small and work up.

Ang

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Hah! You need a time machine! I need a frickin' 14-day week. I'm thankfully not beta-ing right now - well, not till yours is ready, Ang, and I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be several weeks away to be honest. And I do tend to focus on the more mechanical aspects, myself.

Ermm... probably I'm not qualified to respond to this, as I am just barely beginning with betas (and I forgot about it in the last chapter of CtL - apologies to Julie there). But I think for me it would depend on the story. Something like "Passages" that is really quite loose in terms of plot and direction, I'm happy to have any kind of feedback I can get, from anyone. A story like "Courting the Lady," I think having too wide a variety of feedback might just stonker me completely and stall the writing; although having said that, once I post something where it can be semi-publicly accessed as in Beta Stories, obviously I'm asking for and willing to take comments.

What kind of comments? I'm pretty good at mechanics, so other than obvious typos, usually any oddities in my prose are deliberate. Plot - I need to be kept after on that. Holes in plot, lack of plot, you name it. Flow and style to some extent, characterization esp. in terms of plausibility of activities and dialogue. I think what a person wants from a beta reader is going to be totally individual...

Perhaps, once I've gone through a few rounds of beta, with Julie and Dimmie, I'll have a better feel for this... (Oh, and Ang, you know that if you ever do have time, I'd be delighted to hear what you think! )

Cel

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Soon as my time machine is back from the repair shop, Cookie.

I am going to try to have OMY roughed in alpha by Thanksgiving, then I'll go through and do a chapter by chapter post in beta. Not sure how long that will take. Possibly until the end of December. I've got a few huge rewrites plus that damn poem to finish before it can even go to beta.

I will be reading CtL! Promise! But it might not be until Xmas.

Ang

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Here's an echo of something Dwim was discussing on another thread - how can an author make a story more enticing to a beta reader?

I actually read a whole bunch of stories on HASA. I'm always loking for something. But what makes me stop and post a comment is either something about the story grabbed me by the throat and won't let go or else the author asked a very pointed question that I have an opinion on.

If a story doesn't grab me or an author doesn't have something they want me to look at in particular, I zip off to the next offering.

And, since I spend so much time working on the site, when I want entertainment, I often go somewhere else (I can only take those stars for so long)

Ang

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

"I actually read a whole bunch of stories on HASA. I'm always loking for something. But what makes me stop and post a comment is either something about the story grabbed me by the throat and won't let go or else the author asked a very pointed question that I have an opinion on."

(obviously this isn't how you reply with a quote but I haven't managed to figure out how do so here yet.)

As a newbie what stops me posting comments is that I'm not sure whether a simple comment is welcome. I've read a lot of the stories here now and often I'd like to give the author some feedback but....
mostly all I want to say is general - a 'I really loved this story and I particularly enjoyed this part' sort of thing as I don't have the time or the nerve to offer full beta comments. When I follow the links to people's conferences though I get the impression that that sort of thing isn't welcome - that it needs to be serious evaluation or nothing. I don't want to do the wrong thing in a new fandom but as an author myself - admittedly in fandoms where reviews are rare - I'd be delighted by any feedback so I'm wondering... What is the custom around here?

Avon

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

When I follow the links to people's conferences though I get the impression that that sort of thing isn't welcome - that it needs to be serious evaluation or nothing. I don't want to do the wrong thing in a new fandom but as an author myself - admittedly in fandoms where reviews are rare - I'd be delighted by any feedback so I'm wondering... What is the custom around here?

Head over to "Writer's Aids" forum, and look up the thread: The Other Art of Giving Feedback. There's a discussion on this very topic. Short answer: what you say you'd like to do sounds fine, and almost no author will turn down a "I really liked this" comment so long as it's spelled correctly. ;-)

Btw, if you want to quote stuff, you just write in the html code. Check the URL library for links to web-building sites which will tell you about basic html tags.

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

Btw, if you want to quote stuff, you just write in the html code. Check the URL library for links to web-building sites which will tell you about basic html tags.

Like so?

Thank you - I've now read the thread (and am late for work - again ;-)) and will contemplate attempting to review something. Thanks a lot for the help.

Avon

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

how can an author make a story more enticing to a beta reader?

Therein lies the trick to good writing, I assume! I can't wait to finish my fanfiction paper so I can actually just sit around and read more of the jewels that are here... wait, now I'm beginning to "squee" (my newest fanfiction vocabulary word)...

And, since I spend so much time working on the site, when I want entertainment, I often go somewhere else (I can only take those stars for so long)

But Anglachel, I love those stars!!

 

 

Re: Finding time for adequate comments

how can an author make a story more enticing to a beta reader?

That might depend whether we're talking about getting someone to agree to become a fairly committed beta reader for your specific fic - ie every time you finish a chapter, they agree to read and comment etc, probably before you post - or what I tend to think of as more "beta reviewers"; where you don't have a single beta reader, but (as I seem now to have with Powers and Chances... for example) a fairly regular small pool of people who will read beta chapters and send me comments.

Where the latter are concerned, on the one hand I'm grateful for any and all feedback (it encourages me when I'm feeling blocked, to know there are actually people out there who would give a damn if there was never another chapter of P&C!) and it's always fascinating to see what people pick up to comment on entirely off their own bats.

On the other hand, if I'm struggling with particular aspects, I will sometimes post requests for comments about those. And certainly when I'm asked to beta-read something, I find it really helpful to have indications of any specific questions or concerns the author has. Not that it constrains me to comment only on those things (people I've beta'd for will tell you it certainly doesn't! ;) ) but it's always good to feel you're being useful in terms of helping the author un-knot a particular problem. Or sometimes reassuring her that the problem she's fretting over really isn't there...

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to Being a Beta Reader

Stories linked to the forum