Beta-Reader Cues & Prompts

Too early I approached a Literary Agent –

Updated 2021 November

Too early I approached a Literary Agent – hey, Writers, don’t rush into a submission, ensure you’ve had a good selection of Beta-Readers first – and, considered what they’ve said. If two point out an area to address, like finding a hole in the plot or some other hiccup, that needs a revisit! Fortunately I’ve been sailing on well but early this month I re-arranged a sequence for more logical flow and chopped a few more words.

This year I’ve refocussed, taking onboard late critiques, acting on them as I see fit and resuming the generously given comment from an agent two years before. A single word. But truly important for a writer of fiction. Subjectivity. This was my initial stumbling block after years of industrial writing and journo stuff. Photo-journalism, newspaper and magazine articles.

Thanks to you all, my Beta-Readers. And my Alpha, dear Julia. Your support and encouragement is seismic.

And here are questions to consider!
  • Does A Greek Matinée have clear commercial appeal?
  • The story should appear marketable like, who do I see as the potential audience for my work?
  • Is A Greek Matinée unique? Of course I reckon it is!

What should a Beta-Reader of a manuscript look for in their reading? What do I want from my Beta-Readers?

I appreciate heavy critique. Honest critique. (I’m way beyond needing my back stroked!)
Although I’m thin-skinned, I won’t take offence. I need to know the faults, weaknesses:

  • Does the opening draw you, my Reader, in (should it be pushed higher?)
  • Does the writing create strong (emotional) impact?
  • Do scene ends tempt you to read on?
  • Does the end of a chapter satisfy you to want to read on?
  • Do sequences of conflict and resolution flow smoothly?
  • Are holes in the “plot”? Is something missing?
  • Are the characters well-rounded (even the er, naughty or unpleasant ones)?
  • Is anything superfluous? – a word, a phrase, whole scene?
  • Does any part of the story not make sense, is confusing? Why so? I need to know the why-sos so that I can reconsider a better approach – without giving away where a herring (red or not) may lead.
  • Characterisation: Actions are consistent with personalities? Personalities well-rounded?
  • Dialogue: Natural and intune with character-personalities? Advances the scene?
  • The end is satisfying?
  • How do you feel after reading the manuscript?
  • What stood out for you?
  • What are the weaknesses?
  • What did you most get from the story?
  • Did it deliver its promise? Its promise from the beginning?

I’ve read my manuscript so many times I’m blind to even small mistakes like typos, an inadvertent pronoun or tense switch. My brain lies to me because it interprets what my eyes see into what it believes a better way to go, being all too “knowing”!

When giving hard-copy of the manuscript to Pre-Submission Readers, my Betas, I ask them to feel free to make notes on manuscript pages as they read, that they can put their thoughts and comments there (even if “Oh! I like this!”) but also I give them pen, paper and sticky-labels as some like to write longer (oh so appreciated) feedback as they progress 🙂 (I read somewhere that another writer was given chapter-by-chapter feedbacks predicting what they thought would happen next!)

Happy days!

Hemingway said: Go after sensitivity not perfection. Control subject matter. Make it beautiful.

Now, two questions for you: What are you presently reading? and, are you writing?

But first, see some Visitor Comments below, perhaps leave one yourself and, give me a Like! Tee-hee heeeee!

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Author: agreekmatinee

My interests and playtime: Writing, Reading, Swimming in the Sea, Gardening, Art: painting, drawing, printmaking (intaglio, lino cut, woodcut); Travel, Ancient History, Archaeology, Exploration, playing Chess, Family, Friends, chili in my tea

9 thoughts on “Beta-Reader Cues & Prompts”

  1. Oops, I forgot to mention what I’m reading – it’s an interesting book about history, essentially. It’s ‘The Edge of the World’ by Michael Pye, the story of how modernity emerged on the shores of the North Sea. It’s not dry – he writes well. Also ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who braids together indigenous knowledge of plants with scientific knowledge. Before that, I read an intense book of fiction about climbing Denali, a mountain in Alaska. As for writing, just my blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh! You’re making me blush with a lengthening list of books yet to tackle. I’m still wading with Dostoevsky’s ‘Demons’ and for pure enjoyment and drifting, Ovid’s ‘Tristia’ sprinkled with moments with poetry.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your manuscript, thank you for the follow, and yes, this is a perfect example of asemic writing! 😉 It’s no surprise that someone like you, who loves to write and is visually inclined too, would be attracted to forms that bring writing and visual art together.

    Liked by 1 person

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