Saturday 30 May 2015

Beta Readers in Action

Hornsea Writers exists as a support group for professional authors and its main function during weekly meetings is to act as a group of Beta listeners. Members read aloud work-in-progress, usually a chapter or so, and constructive criticism – colloquially referred to as shredding – is offered. And yes, we do go into the minutiae of how a sentence is constructed, and no, trite responses such as that’s nice, never cross our lips. Visitors have been known to visibly quail.

While beta-reading on the hoof works well, a typescript also needs to be beta-read as a single entity. Usually a completed work comes around individually, but planets have aligned and at Hornsea Writers it is currently Beta-Reading Month.

Stuart Aken kicked it off with his health memoir M.E. and me  – check his blog via the link for full details. Fast on its heels Penny Grubb offered up a crime novel, April Taylor a crime novella, and Madeleine McDonald a historical novel. Never has MSWord’s ‘comments’ facility seen so much action.

However, we are not our only beta readers. Most members have outside contacts who bring their own skills to a text. Collating the various comments is where the true polishing of a work lies.

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