How do you Beta read?

12 Jul

A fellow writer from my monthly group asked me to read a piece of his recently. Having more time from school, I obliged and asked for the Word document version so I could use tracked changes and comments to give my feedback. He told me he didn’t have MS Office and my brain exploded a bit.

This is the second time some has asked me to read for them and given me a PDF or OTF file. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I’ve only ever used Word to Beta read for someone. I could manage Google Drive fine as well because of the similar features. I can leave comments right where I want them, not at the end saying, “In the second paragraph of the third page…” I can make quick comments on grammar and I can leave a tirade on why I don’t like a sentence that hides easily when you don’t want to see it anymore. The only other way I can do this is on paper. But, with modern technology, that’s not always the easiest.

Maybe I’m set in my ways. Maybe I need to update myself to other file formats or maybe I’m too detail oriented for a Beta reader. I give overall comments and detailed comments. I know 90% of a first draft gets re-written, but I’m going to make sure the remaining 10% has no split infinitives!

How do you Beta read for a friend? What kind of feedback do you look for from your Beta reader? I’d love to hear what others are doing and how I can help my cowriters more.

Until next time, write on.

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11 Responses to “How do you Beta read?”

  1. Random Reads July 12, 2016 at 2:23 PM #

    I’ve never done any Beta reading


    • Sam July 12, 2016 at 4:15 PM #

      It’s a part of the writing community I enjoy but it can be very time consuming.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Random Reads July 12, 2016 at 4:28 PM #

        I’ve heard about other people doing or offering beta reading but it does sound specific and time consuming.


  2. siderealday July 13, 2016 at 12:25 AM #

    I tend to ask betas to look for consistency (in characters and plot) as well as for structural weaknesses. And I also tend to ask ‘why’ a lot – why did you like this, why didn’t this work for you, etc. Which I realize can be kind of demanding and adds to the time consuming nature of the work.
    And I agree with you about how easy it is to use something like Word to track your comments. I’m not sure if other word processors can do it or not, but while PDFs can (in some programs, at least) it’s a bit more time consuming.


    • Sam July 13, 2016 at 5:05 PM #

      Asking Why a lot is a good one. If my plot is strong, there’s no problem with it being challenged. I don’t take Beta reading lightly because it’s a big time commitment. And I always read if I say I will. Happy reading!


  3. Emily Witt July 13, 2016 at 3:04 AM #

    I’ve only beta read a couple of times before, but I’ve done it in Word for the reasons you list. You can convert PDFs to Office files but often the formatting goes screwy, which is never helpful. Perhaps you could ask him to save in RTF format? That can be read by the majority of word processors, and he must be using some sort of word processor to type it up in the first place, right? Though I don’t know how tracked changes and comments apply to something in RTF, so that may not help…


    • Sam July 13, 2016 at 5:10 PM #

      That was my concern. I didn’t know if he’d be able to read them when I gave it back. Maybe a PDF of the edited file is best, but that would be so much work for him!!! It seems like we were able to work something out, but it wasn’t ideal. Happy writing!


  4. emilyramos July 13, 2016 at 8:47 AM #

    I’ve only over read in Microsoft Word for friends – I imagine more people are using things like PDF because they are afraid someone will steal their work? But that’s why I only give my work to people I trust 100%. Of course, when I read for my friends it is usually the first or second draft, where they need pointers for what works and strange phrasings most. For later drafts, I imagine I would read more for flow and consistency, which would (hopefully) mean fewer comments.


    • Sam July 13, 2016 at 5:23 PM #

      What I read was a very early draft as well. For flow, I find it easier to read later drafts aloud to a friend to find issues. In this case, the writer didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite and uses other packages that are cheap or free instead. Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. charliegirlteachergirl July 14, 2016 at 6:34 PM #

    I don’t do traditional beta reading, but I do have an author who sends me his work once he’s satisfied with it (after many revisions and drafts) and asks for feedback. Since I don’t need to give such vast commentary back, he sends as a PDF. But if you’re working alongside as a true beta reader, I can’t imagine not receiving the draft in Word. How can you write in those cheap, pre-installed programs that are only trials without losing your work?


    • Sam July 15, 2016 at 11:43 AM #

      This writer uses open office which is rather consistent. I’d prefer GoogleDocs but hey! Are you giving very general feedback from the PDFs? I wonder why he sends it in that format. Happy reading!


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