|Fundles (fun_demented) wrote in qaf_coffeeclub,|
@ 2011-04-01 11:46:00
A new writer emailed me asking me several very good questions about what a beta is and how you know if your beta is qualified.
I suggested she create a post in here, so hopefully she will with all her questions: or she can just paste them into the comments here.
DEFINITION: A beta literally means, second reader. The author is the alpha reader.
[unless they don't read over their story when it's finished, then the beta literally becomes the alpha reader, even though they're still called a beta]
WHY YOU NEED A BETA: The reason you need a second set of eyes is because you already know exactly what you meant to convey in your story, before you read your completed work. the beta reader knows nothing until they read the story. thus, the author is the least qualified reader in deciphering whether a coherent story has been told.
WHAT A BETA DOES: the most important function of a beta (second reader) is to tell you if the story makes sense: does it need more information to express the point clearly? or are the usage and grammar errors ones that actually change or confuse the intended meaning of the text? the second most important function is to correct typos or other types of errors, so that the reader isn't pulled out of the story due to mentally correcting the text or by having to stop and figure out what was meant (this is the function that seems to cause the most debate in fandom regarding beta-necessity). third most important function of the beta is to contemplate the theme/s: does the story have a purpose? does it have a beginning, middle and end? are the ideas interesting? is the theme apparent? does the story include unnecessary information that doesn't push the story forward, thus distracting the reader from the main theme/s? the fourth most important function is to assist with style: does it drag on needlessly or repeat without good reason? does it flow? has the writer chosen the best tense? is the POV "right"?
FANDOM SPECIFIC BETA: this is as important as the first function of what a beta does in general. this is because the reason a reader chooses a fanfiction story as opposed to a non-fandom story, or a story from a different fandom, is because they are seeking to be inside of the world of the characters. if you're not going to put us in the world of canon, it is not a successful fanfic. Even if it is a good non-fandom fic.
WHAT A FANDOM SPECIFIC BETA DOES: the most important function of the fandom-side of the beta: are the characters IN character? whether the conflict is familiar or strange the character/s should be acting/reacting in a manner true to canon. second most important: does the language sound like the language style of canon? third most important: are the themes similar to the themes of the source material (canon)? fourth most important: is the universe the characters are in, in someway recognizable? whether they're in outer space or at the most familiar fandom location, the atmosphere should be reminiscent of canon.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FROM YOUR BETA: do you want a full beta? do you want a minimum beta where you merely get assistance in making the story clear or affirmation that it is already clear? or something in between full and minimum?
KNOW YOUR BETA'S STRENGTHS: can your beta help you with canon? does your beta speak the same native dialect spoken in the fandom universe? can your beta assist you with grammar and usage?
FINDING THE RIGHT BETA: The best way to find the "right" beta for you, is to state what strengths during beta (second read) you are most in need of. just as importantly, disclose in your request for beta the length and genre of your fanfic, list the main characters, character/pairings and share any warnings that might be attached to the fic when posted. this is important because the key in finding the beta that is "right" for you, is in being the "right" alpha for your beta...