How do you beta? Everyone has a different style, and everyone has a different preference. Writer Sarah Enni bravely volunteered her first page so that you can jump from blog to blog and see how varied the feedback can be.
- I compulsively line edit, with a stream of consciousness commentary in the margins.
- After a day to think over the piece, I add an overview of larger issues that struck me, both good and bad.
- In an ideal world, I'd read every piece twice, but time restraints usually mean one thorough round.
- Sometimes I reword sentences. I try to be very clear that my rephrasing isn't "right"-- it's just faster to use an example than to figure out how to make the suggestion in a roundabout way.
- Some people tell their betas what to look for, and I'm always fine with helping address particular issues. But after awhile you figure out which betas excel in which areas, and know who to ask for line edits versus plot holes.
- Deb suggests that if a writer doesn't want line edits, the reader shouldn't touch the prose. I'm not that reader--once I got busted for marking typos in the staff handbook during a training-- and I try to make that clear up front.
- When I personally get feedback, I like to merge it all into one document, and the comment feature in Word makes that the easiest. But I can use something else if the writer prefers. I just need to hear it on the front end.
So. With that said... (click to enlarge)
My overall comments:
Lots of evocative imagery in there but we need more of a hook to keep reading. (If this were an actual partial, I'd be able to offer more advice on the latter.)
Now: Go check out what Kathleen, Cory, Windy, Meredith and Alicia have to say-- and go tell Sarah to keep up the good work!
ETA: I forgot to thank Kathleen for the