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Beta Reader Questions

Beta Reader Questions for your Consideration

What questions would you ask? What do you feel comfortable answering?

I’m gearing up for the final push to get SANYARE to beta readers. There are just a few chapters left to edit before it’s ready, and my firm deadline is to send it out on the 13th. Lucky number 13, right?

Anyway, to help prep the readers and direct them toward the kind of feedback I’m looking for, I’ve put together a list of questions that I’m planning on sending out with each manuscript. I don’t expect detailed answers for each and every question, but I want to get the readers thinking critically and considering all aspects of the manuscript.

So here’s my list. What do you think? Have I gone too far? Is there anything I’m missing?

 

General
~ Do you like the title? If not, do you have any suggestions for alternative options?
~ Did the story hold your interest from the first page? Were you “hooked”?
~ What was your first stopping point?
~ Was there a point (after the first chapter or two) at which your interest increased or decreased significantly?
~ Was there anything that confused or frustrated you?
~ Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
~ Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, etc.?
~ Were there any noticeable plot holes or jumps in logic?
~ Did you notice any repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors?

Characters
~ Could you relate to Rie? Did you connect with her emotions?
~ Did you ever feel like you knew Rie personally?
~ Which characters did you connect to and like? Excluding Rie, who was your favorite?
~ Were the villains believable?
~ Which characters need more development? Did you want to see more of any of them?
~ Are there any characters for which you’d like to read a standalone short story?

Setting & Dialogue
~ Did the setting pull you in, and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
~ Did you ever feel there was too much description? Not enough?
~ Did you ever feel there was too much dialogue? Not enough?
~ Did the dialogue sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial, and where in the story?

Margin Notes
As you’re reading, please mark any or all of the following:
~ Scenes/paragraphs/lines you really liked or didn’t like.
~ Scenes/paragraphs where you felt bored.
~ Scenes/paragraphs/lines that resonated and/or moved you emotionally.
~ Sections/ideas/backstory that feel too long and should be compressed.
~ Sections/ideas/backstory where you wanted more (e.g. more backstory, deeper emotions, etc).
~ Anything that is confusing.
~ Any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors you notice as you read.

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8 comments on “Beta Reader Questions

  1. Hi Megan ,
    I think the questions are a very good idea. It will help me as a reader to really help you instead of me writing critiques in an unguided way.

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  2. Hey Megan,

    congratulations on (just about) getting through your current draft! I must say that is a very comprehensive list. If you give the entire list to your readers before they start, there is a possibility that they will be distracted by trying to figure out the answers as they go instead of just reading in their normal style. You might want to give them the first three sections of questions only after they have finished the entire book (or each Act, depending on overall word count). I think that some of the questions could also be combined – separate questions about reader confusion, inconsistencies and plot holes seem likely to give the same answer.

    I got back my first round of beta reader feedback over the past couple of weeks and one reader, who has beta read for others, had a really good system. At the end of each chapter, he just wrote down a number from 1 to 10 of how much he wanted to read the next chapter. That was a simple thing for him to do, and it also gave me a starting place to talk to him about what did or didn’t work.

    One other interesting technique for beta readers is to ask them who they would cast in each named role for the movie version. If they can’t remember a character clearly, or cast someone very different than you would have, it is an indicator that you didn’t flesh out that character enough or present them as well as you thought you did.

    Good luck getting through the draft this week!

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    • Great suggestions, Cam! Thank you!

      I’m still debating, but I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas by posting this list. One suggestion was to send the questions after the readers have read it, and another was to do an ‘A/B’ test, where I send the questions to one group, but not the other, to see how the feedback differs. Thankfully, I still have a few days to decide! 🙂

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  3. I’m a little late seeing this post, but I think your questions are terrific, Megan! After I’d written several drafts of my memoir I gave it to 5 beta readers with only about a half dozen questions. I didn’t know what questions to ask! This would have been a great reference. Maybe next time. Congratulations on getting to the finish line!

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  4. […] concept. These readers are like a focus group and they are even more helpful in genre reading. This article provides sensible questions you can use with your beta-readers which can provide you valuable […]

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  5. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    A post parallel to my recent post on Archer’s Aim – re-blogging

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