Why do you need a beta reader or critique partner?
In a previous writing tip article, I talked about the difference between beta readers and critique partners. So why are beta readers or critique partners so important?
- A beta reader or critique partner provides a fresh pair of eyes. After spending so much time working on your novel, we authors tend to become blind to the shortcomings of our own work. Beta readers and critique partners help us find plot holes, inconsistencies, typos, and many other mistakes.
- Two heads think better than one. If you are stuck, you can brainstorm together. Critique partners and beta readers provide you with a second opinion when you are not sure whether something works.
- Critique partners and beta readers make the process of writing less lonely. Writing is a solitary activity, but revising doesn’t need to be. Beta readers and critique partners can be cheerleaders and supporters too. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement of my long-time beta reader, I doubt I would have taken the step toward publication.
- A good beta reader or critique partner does wonders for your motivation. They don’t just point out the mistakes but also compliment your progress and the things you did right. You’ll also sit down more often to write if you know the beta or critique partner is waiting for the next part.
- Most importantly, beta readers and critique partners will help you improve your novel and your writing skills. They don’t just point out mistakes, they will also show you how to further improve your manuscript—how to deepen the characterizations, how to make the dialogue even snappier, how to increase suspense, etc. This will not only increase your chances for publication, but also help you build a good reputation with readers, especially if you self-publish. I’d rather a beta reader or critique partner catch a mistake than a reader who paid for my book.
- As an added bonus, long-term beta readers and critique partners can become friends. I didn’t start out looking to establish close friendships with my beta readers, but with two or three of them, that’s exactly what happened.
So as a friend once told me: a good beta reader is worth her or his weight in chocolate.