Riddle: When do gaming and editing services meet? Answer: At DexCon, of course! Ann Stolinsky, partner in Gemini Wordsmiths and owner of Gontza Games, attended the July 2019 East Coast annual gaming convention. When she told the attendees that she is a game designer and play-tester …
What’s an Alpha reader? What’s a Beta reader? How do they differ?
We each belong to writing groups, both in person and on Facebook. Questions abound about Alpha and Beta readers, and the differences between them.
Alpha readers, as the word Alpha implies, are the first readers of your manuscript. You can ask an Alpha reader to read each chapter as it’s written or wait until your manuscript is complete. An Alpha reader should give you the feedback you ask for from him or her. For example, if your Alpha reader is reviewing your manuscript one chapter at a time, the Alpha could tell you if the chapter made sense, if the character is true to its arc, if your verbiage was clear and concise, if you’ve written one word multiple times, etc. What the Alpha reader could not effectively give feedback on is whether the plot flows smoothly. Reading one chapter at a time is not conducive to general overall feedback. If you ask your Alpha reader to wait until the manuscript is complete, then you could gain valuable feedback on the overall direction of the plot.
An Alpha reader might be a friend or a family member who reads a lot and does not have to be a professional writer—just someone who can give constructive feedback.
After receiving feedback from your Alpha reader(s), edit your work. Edit again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Revise your manuscript as many times as it takes for you to feel confident your story is improved. Then, send the manuscript to Beta readers.
Beta readers should not be family or friends. When your manuscript undergoes a Beta read, you should ask someone who doesn’t love you. We know that looks weird, but the truth is, you want your Beta readers to be totally objective, and not to hold back on their critique. Someone who loves you may not fit this bill because they may not want to hurt your feelings.
Beta readers should delve deeper into the manuscript than Alpha readers. Betas should give you feedback on plot flow, plot holes he/she finds, characterization (is the main character likeable? Would a reader root for them?), scenes that slow the flow, etc. You can provide your Beta reader with specific questions to answer, specific plot points on which to focus.
After receiving a Beta’s feedback, edit and revise again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
After you have received all the feedback you feel you need and revised as much as you possibly can, that’s the time to send your completed story to a professional editor.
We’ll discuss the differences in levels of editing in later blog posts.
We are compiling a list of volunteer Beta readers. If you’re interested in being included, let us know by email. The only requirement is that you must commit to reading, completing, and reviewing whatever manuscripts you agree to read. You can select your genres. Our list is on our website:https://geminiwordsmiths.com/resources/#beta-readers
If you have other questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer them in a future blog post.
Thanks for reading!
Ruth’s Ramblings – What the writing experts say
How does one become more proficient at their craft of writing? According to the best-selling author @Jonathan Maberry, a writer must spend time writing every day. You’re busy? You have a fulltime job; you have young children; you have to take care of your aging parents; you have other reason that hinder your attempts to spend time on a daily basis doing what you know you want to do. Well, I have the answer.
Force. That’s right, force. Well, not physical, but intentional. While you’re busy, you still find time to brush your teeth, make your bed, empty your dishwasher, and go to the gym. OK, not all of us get to the gym but you get my point. You set aside time daily for these things. If you didn’t have to do them, maybe you’d get up a half-hour later. But you, as an adult, do get up earlier. You make the time. Same with writing.
Think about your commitment to becoming an author. Is it worth the extra half-hour of sleep? Yes, that’s all it takes … to start. You may find it turns into an hour earlier on a daily basis because you become so energized, fulfilled, and creative. You can even munch on your bagel while you write. Author and memoirist @Jerry Waxler wakes at what even I’d consider an early hour because he finds that’s when the house is quiet and his inspiration is at its peak.
Find the time of day that may work for you and make the time to sit for a half-hour. Every day. Some days you may put nothing on paper. Some days you may stimulate your neurons so greatly that you’re singing all day long thinking about your accomplishment. But, make that time. If your goal is to be a writer and to write, you know what you have to do.
There’s an old Yiddish expression – get 10 Jewish people in a room and you’ll get 20 opinions.
The same holds true for editors. Some editors call correcting syntax, spelling, and punctuation, proofreading. Some call it line editing. And we’re sure there are other designations we haven’t heard.
We call it line editing.
A line edit is essentially a “surface” edit. It is the last review prior to shopping your manuscript around for agent representation. After you’ve written the manuscript, received feedback from Alpha and Beta readers, revised, revised, revised, sent it to a professional editor for a developmental edit (which we’ll describe in a future blog), revised again, and you feel the manuscript is the best it’s going to be, send it to a line editor.
When we line edit a manuscript, we’re looking solely for syntax issues, misspellings, double word uses, incorrect punctuation, sentences that don’t make sense, and poor grammar.
Line editing does not include delving deep into the storyline or characters, as does a developmental edit. Line editing should be completed as the absolute, final step before sending a manuscript to an agent, or a publisher, or uploading it when self-publishing.
Why is it important for your manuscript to be line edited if you’re self-publishing? We’ve heard people say that they don’t intend to spend any money on editing when self-pubbing.
It’s important because this is the face you’re showing to your readers. If you produce a novel rife with errors, misspellings, etc., your reader will presume you really don’t care about writing and will not buy another one of your books. Polishing a manuscript, regardless of who publishes it, will show your reader that you care about your story, and also about your reader.
Whether you use Gemini Wordsmiths or another editor, line editing is an important step before sending your baby out into the world.
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