Getting not just feedback, but the right feedback, is essential to taking your writing to the next level and getting your novel or memoir noticed by agents.
But hiring a professional developmental editor (to assess your story’s strengths, as opposed to a line edit, which looks at grammar and sentence-level revision), while useful, can cost you thousands of dollars. You could ask fellow writers from a writer’s group, conference, or class to give you advice and feedback on your writing for free, but they are frequently busy with their own writing projects and may not be able to look at your project in as much depth as you might like. And friends and family–your potential beta readers, or readers who read your story usually after you’ve polished it as much as you can and give you feedback on its strengths and weaknesses–may say they are thrilled to look at your writing, but do they know anything about writing?! What’s more, well-meaning people might not want to hurt your feelings and may just say ‘it’s great!’ without going deeper into the type of feedback you need to take your work to the next level.
With my Be Your Own Beta Reader Checklist, you or one of your prospective beta readers can assess the strengths and weaknesses in your writing. The Best Beta Reader checklist can be used to catch blind spots in your writing before you send off your project to agents and editors. You can give it to your friends and family when asking them to read your project, or use it on your own to assess your writing’s strengths and areas for improvement, using a comprehensive checklist covering all major elements of your story.
For example, here are some things to consider in assessing your novel or memoir:
Does the first chapter establish who the main character is and build some empathy or identification with that main character?
Does your first chapter establish the ordinary world of the main character?
Have you avoided five of the major red flags of how NOT to start your novel, including chase scenes or secondary character ‘ciphers’ who serve no greater purpose to the story but to highlight the main character?
Does every scene in your story show a net change from positive to negative, or negative to positive?
I’m working on a Be Your Own Beta Reader Checklist to help you assess your project’s strengths and target areas for improvement in your entire novel or memoir. You can use my Be Your Own Beta Reader Checklist as you work to polish your writing project and eventually get it in front of editors and agents. Sign up to get your copy of the free Be Your Own Beta Reader Checklist as soon as it becomes available!
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
- The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass
- The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush
- The Novel-Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell
- Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make it Great by William M. Akers