Do You Need A Beta Reader?

15 Mar

Over the last few days, I’ve been asked to be a Beta Reader for 2 of my fellow bloggers, Rmengena and Katrina. And wow, what an honor! From what I’ve heard, a Beta Reader is someone who reads another writer’s work before it is published and gives feedback like: Is it interesting? Does it pull you in and hold you? Does it make sense? Did the writer contradict the story line? All in all, it’s proofreading the story line and plot, rather than paying attention to spelling or grammar. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a Beta Reader for two great writers!

I’ve known what a “Beta Reader” is long before I knew the person was called a “Beta Reader.” Since beginning to write my current book (a memoir of what it’s been like growing up with Cerebral Palsy), I’ve had one Beta Reader, one of my best friends, Kayley. Though I technically just wanted her opinion on the first few pages that I had written, she gave me much more feedback considering she is a writer herself (which was very helpful). Also, she knows the basics of what I’ve been through, and so she was able to point out places that I needed to expound on something or try to be more clear. Also, she was able to point out all the really good parts of what I’ve written so far so that I know what types of things to add. Though she only read the first seven pages, her feedback was incredibly helpful. Also, it was a plus that she is a writer herself (even though she doesn’t do much writing these days), but it was nice to have a writer’s point of view.

I didn’t really understand the importance of a Beta Reader until I had Kayley read what I’ve written so far. She was able to bring to light some things that I hadn’t considered before, and she helped me think of the different directions I could go when mentioning certain memories. Over all, it was helpful to have fresh eyes, but it also was nice to have someone read the first few pages who wasn’t face to face with the information. See, that’s the tricky part about writing this memoir of sorts. I’ve been knee-deep in memories and emotions for the past few months. No matter how hard I try to look at it in a writer’s broader point of view, I just can’t at this point. I’m too close to the details, and so I’m unable to see the larger picture of my book as a whole. I have a feeling that the more I write, the less I’ll be glued to the words themselves and the strong pull of emotions that put me head first into my memories. Then again, maybe not. However, that’s why it’s really great to have a Beta Reader: someone to point out things that maybe you haven’t thought of or someone to suggest including certain things that you didn’t take into account. The beginning interpretation that I had of my own book is different from my interpretation after Kayley was my Beta Reader. Though it was emotionally hard for me to sit there and talk through memories with her, it got me out of the rut that I’ve been in for the last couple of weeks. Through her advice, I’m moving forward. I’m including certain experiences that I didn’t consider. I’m giving the world a deeper look into what it has been like for me to live with Cerebral Palsy. And I’m doing it all with words.


9 Responses to “Do You Need A Beta Reader?”

  1. writinglikeastoner March 15, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I like your post 🙂 I wish i had a beta reader to help correct some of the pages that i write in my blog. Sometimes i find it hard to express things in big words, not that i don’t understand them, but its just that I’m not really a writer. I don’t really compose my words and use expression very well, but sometimes I just follow what I tend to say in my heart.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      What many people don’t realize at first is that writing is just being able to openly express your feelings and experiences and not holding back for fear of failure or rejection. Plus, another important thing to remember is to write for yourself and from your heart. When writing becomes something that you do for others rather than yourself, it loses the joy and powerful emotion you had in the beginning.

      • writinglikeastoner March 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

        Thank you for your wise words. I agree with what you have to say. Is there anyway that I can improve on my vocabulary and knowledge of words ?

      • ameliaclaire92 March 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

        My advice is to read. Read a lot. That’s what really helped me.

      • writinglikeastoner March 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

        Thanks 🙂 Maybe I’ll take up some books to read 🙂

  2. sherrylcook March 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Very good advice! I am in the process of completing my memoirs now, been working on it off and on now for about three years. The problem is I don’t really know where to stop. I think I’m finished, then remember something else. I was born with a birth defect in my eye, looking differently than others, I really have a story to tell. I’m not a “professional” writer, just writing from my heart. The next step is finding a publisher. I initially started writing for my daughters and granddaughters but as time has gone by I realize that others may benefit from this. My dream is to get this thing published. Hang in there, you are well on your way!!!

  3. melissacuevas March 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m lucky. The spouse is always willing to read stuff and has a keen eye for the embarrassing moments every writer creates without even noticing them. I currently have a great beta reader handling “Clearing the Way”, as well. Thanks, Tori! It’s not easy to find people who are willing to do more than just read a work, beta reading is more than that.

  4. cass June 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I totally hear you here. I have been writing my memoir-without meaning to!-for 10 years through blogs and journals. i suffered with anorexia and a crazy past filled with alcohol abuse and sexual assault. In recovery, im learning to use my writing as a glimpse into who i was to understand the past. My memoir is almost complete. My wonderful boyfriend has been reading and editting with me. But i need someone who doesnt know me or the story characters. Any advice on getting a complete stranger to beta read for me? Would you yourself be interested? Its heavy material but there’s so much value in the story.

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