3 Types of Beta Readers
There are all kinds of people you can ask for feedback on your writing, some better than others. Beta readers can be largely split into three groups.
- The Praisers - this group is usually made up of well-meaning family members. Afraid of hurting your feelings, they’ll praise everything you write and avoid criticising anything. They only serve to feed your ego. Which is nice, but doesn’t do you any favours for improving your writing.
- The Critics - these people go too far the other way. Some of these people are well-meaning, some of them are jealous, some of them simply do not know how to give proper criticism. They rip your piece apart, often line by line, with no suggestions for changes and no explanations of why things didn’t work. These people can kill off your motivation and leave you completely lost as to how to improve.
- The Perfect Beta Readers - this group is largely made up of other writers or people who read a lot. They balance their feedback with good and bad points, they fully explain why certain parts do or don’t work, they suggest improvements and help you to better your writing.
Perfect Beta Readers can be hard to find, and you’re far more likely to stumble over people from the first two groups. Learning to recognise the difference between these groups will come through experience and choosing your beta readers carefully.
A well chosen beta reader can be worth their weight in gold.
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer. From Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris