I have recently discovered the magic of sending a finished piece of to beta readers for some honest input on whether the story works. (My family and friends aren't reliable for that sort of thing - bunch of flatterers).
Do you use beta readers?
If not, do you do something similar, like a critique exchange?
Where do you find your beta readers?
I use them.
My girlfriend reads everything first. She's actually capable of giving honest feedback. After that, I'll pass it along to some industry and non-industry folks to see if it's ready to send in.
I use them, but I've become skeptical of prescreptive critique over wise reader questions. I like to know whether they were confused, didn't believe it, or didn't care. Then I'll take it back and figure out why that may be the case.
Particularly in terms of like character development. Like how could someone mention lack of character development, and not be familiar with static versus dynamic characters? That just kind of blows my mind a little bit. I mean what movie critic isn't familiar with that?
It's tough. I've got a buddy who's a non-reader type of guy (makes a huge difference if someone's generally into reading or not) and he likes to read my work. I'll often give him pieces of my Flash Fiction and he loves em, most of em. I like to give him stuff because, since he's a non-reader type, he'll tell me exactly what didn't resonate with him or make much sense to him, and I'll get a sense of where I was too vague or reached too far. Helps a lot. Also, when I do something well it blows his mind, which is awesome to see.
As far as reader-type beta readers, I don't really have many, if any. I have a workshop going with some friends, but because of schedule differences it's hard for us to meet up. So they're not really beta readers. I'd like someone, either an avid reader or experimenting writer, to be my beta reader so I could get quick and easy outside input on my character development, but alas the world is cruel. Haha
I think the worst bit is having one that calls every day in the week. I don't keep the phone off because I don't want to call people.
How am I going to get 20,000 words done (give or take) if I'm called every day.
Holy god, Sarah ... 20k words a day? How many of then do you keep? I could pound out a novel a week at that rate.
Anyway, I use beta readers, typically friends I trust to be honest with me. It's not the same as a peer critique at all, but it tells me important things like "is my character real enough" "does the overall story work" "was anything missing" etc. Often, my beta readers will tell me things like "It seemed slow in *section* but I don't know why." Then I go read that section and realize my pacing was dragging like a two-legged horse.
For me it's a pair of new eyes to see through and is invaluable. But I prefer peer critiques ... while harder on the ego, they're better, IMO, for the work.
I generally tend to keep around 18,000 words. (Roughly the size of jungle book.) And it was actually done in three weeks, not one week. I was barely manageing 1,000 words a day. I wouldn't even recommend the experience for myself. Purely accidental. I only got that much done as it was originally meant to be a birthday gift to my nieces.
And yes I almost want to experiment with readers that aren't writing, and see what they think.
Anybody want to BE a beta reader? I really need to find some. Especially since my one and only beta reader just moved to Vegas. Probably not, who wants to read rough-ass half-formed experiments? But if anyone does, I need someone interested in reading prototypes, who will be constructive as well as tell me what's boring and what's interesting, and focus more on the story and character mechanics than the prose. It seems I can't keep going without outside insight.
Finding a beta reader for poetry seems to be harder than for prose. Could be totally off base.
I'd agree with that, although a lot of my writer friends, most actually, are poets. I got a workshop together with a couple of them and I was the only one doing prose fiction.
They're hard to find. I've made some friends here in Litreactor who read my stuff, but you always need someone else because we're all busy.
I can read for you, if you want. Just send it over. I'll send you mine.
I shot you a message Hernan. Anyone else? I'll take anyone who's willing. At this point, I'm welcoming as much perspective as I can possibly get.