Beta Reading Checklist

Oct 15 2021

This page contains a contract to set expectations between an author and a (serious) beta reader/critique partner.

Submissions #

As a rhetorician, I enjoying analyzing how language can achieve goals. I do beta reading, sometimes. Read this page before you contact me.

Status: ❌ CLOSED

Next open in: October
GenreWordcount
Novellas and short stories preferred. “I like most non-fiction, in particular: psychology, true-crime, anthropology, and history. For fiction: weird, horrible, and funny.” —FAQNo manuscripts over 100k words. Word counts over the limit are an instant turn-off.

Agreement #

  1. If I drop the manuscript, I will mention where and why (I usually read to the end).
  2. I will give feedback on both the positives and negatives.
  3. I will ask lots of questions, which you probably shouldn’t answer most of them.
  4. I will point out where the language over explains or fails to serve a purpose.
  5. I am a slow reader and it takes me a while to produce meaningful feedback. As a beta reader, I am mainly focused on voicing my reactions. As I writer, I seek to explain why they come about.
  6. My opinions are opinionated. Once I send out a report, they’re final. No amount of arguing or explaining your intentions will change my mind very much.
  7. I have high standards.
  8. Don’t take anything personally.
  9. If it doesn’t work out, better luck next time.

File Format #

I don’t care. It can be a Word document, a share link, a PDF, a n epub, or a zip of plaintext files.

On Rewriting #

Since I am a writer, I provide “rewrites” of some sentences. No, I do not intend to rewrite your story to fit my vision. Rewrites are for highlighting a technique or provide an example, not to undermine an author’s agency. Some concepts may need clarity, while some things can be left mysterious. The concern is on the backbones of story: setting expectations, payoff of expectations, and pacing emotional moments.


Report Format #

How my report is structured.

First section #

I will answer specific questions from the author. Otherwise, they will follow the “Deep Questionnaire.”

Deep Questionnaire #

If you are a beta reader who wants to go above and beyond, answer some of these questions for your author:

  1. From what does the work derive its energy: plot, language, structure, or something else? (Can you identify the author’s strengths and weaknesses?)
  2. How does content (what is being told) interact with tone or style (how it is being told)?
  3. Do any images or ideas reoccur? What do they suggest? (symbolism and themes)
  4. What unspoken story is underneath the story? (What is the story really about?)
  5. Where/how does the story surprise or delight?
  6. Where/how is the story predictable?
  7. What is the story’s best sentence, or set of sentences? Why?
  8. When you have finished the story, what feeling is left behind?

Ranking System #

🚩 Unacceptable—Strong negative opinions
🤓 Suggestions—Up to artistic license
👍 Good stuff—Keep doing this!

Additional Notes #

Anything that doesn’t fit in the other sections goes here, like an appendix.


If you want to ask me to look over your manuscript, head to my Contact Form and send me your blurb and word count.