Monday, January 13, 2020

Questions to ask your critique partners and/or beta readers

Reading nook - 1905
We did not receive any submissions for First 100 Critique last week.  It appears y'all are a little burned out on the First 50/100 Critique idea, so we'll let it sit for awhile.  Don't worry, we'll resurrect it a little later this year.

According to the OA About page, “We blog regularly, sharing writing tips and hosting contests (like #queryfriday and #PassOrPages).”  So during this break from First 50/100, let's talk about some writing tips.  This week – Questions to ask your critique partners and/or beta readers.

First question – what's the difference between critique partners and beta readers?  A critique partner is a writer who reads your work and gives you feedback from a writer's perspective.  You will usually “pay” for this help by doing the same thing in return.  A beta reader is a reader, usually one who reads in your genre and is a member of your target audience, who gives you feedback based on a reader's perspective, not a writer's perspective.

The types of questions and feedback you want from each one can be different, but can also be the same.

I trolled the internet and found several good lists of questions you can consider asking your critique partners and/or beta readers.

Writer's Digest

Helping Writers Become Authors

Beta Reader IO

Jami Gold

The Write Life

The Kill Zone

When I read someone's first chapter, I usually comment on (1) was the first line/paragraph good for the category/genre, (2) did the first line/paragraph hook me, (3) did I like the MC, (4) was the dialogue authentic and believable, (5) was the action believable, (6) was it exciting and/or fun, (7) can I visualize the setting, (8) does the timeline make sense, (9) were there parts where I wanted to read more of the MC's thoughts [this one is common], and (10) would I want to read this all the way to the end.

I also tend to leave "stream of consciousness" comments.  If I have a thought while I'm reading, I make a comment so the writer knows what's going through my mind at that point in the story.

When someone reads your manuscript, what kinds of questions to you ask your readers?  And when you read for someone, what kinds of comments do you give?  Let us know in the comments!

1 comment:

Dena Pawling said...

The following comment was received by email:

Hi Operation Awesome.
When I read for someone I tend to look the hardest at dialog. (I studied script writing at San Francisco State for a number of years while working toward a BA in film studies). If the dialog doesn't fit the character in a story, I begin to lose interest rather quickly. I would ask if the dialog fits the "belief system" of the character that the writer is building with their narrative? Out of character dialog is jarring to a reader when expectations have been set up for that character unless there is an "epiphany" which changes the character's course of action and way of thinking.

Often, too, I find that character dialog for newer writers is too simplistic and mundane, the words lacking snap and vibrancy. Conversations in books should be more interesting than everyday conversation, each word having a purpose to move the character and story forward.