Elevate Your Writing with a Customizable Beta Reading Prompt
Learn how to improve your manuscript and take your writing to the next level with a beta reading prompt tailored to your unique needs.
Howdy, Word Wranglers 👋
I was away this weekend (again) at a music festival so this post is a little delayed, that and I’m trying something new with a paywall after the foundational post. So this one is longer than usual and took a bit more extra testing and experimentation.
Also, for this post comments are for paid subscribers only. (Experiment #2003 🧪 )
As writers, we all want to create something that resonates with readers and captures their imagination.
But how can we be sure that our writing is hitting the mark?
That's where beta reading comes in.
Beta readers are individuals who read a manuscript before it's published and provide feedback to the author. This feedback can be invaluable in helping authors improve their manuscripts and increase their chances of success. One tool that can help writers get specific and actionable feedback from beta readers is a beta reading prompt.
In this article, we'll explore what a beta reading prompt is and how it can be used to improve your writing.
Whether you're a seasoned author or just starting out, a beta reading prompt can provide valuable insights into your manuscript and help you take your writing to the next level.
So let's dive in!
What is a beta reading prompt?
Picture this: you've just finished binge-watching "Stranger Things," and you're itching to discuss every twist, turn, and 80s reference with your friends.
But instead of asking them about their favorite scenes, characters, or theories, you just say:
"So, what did you think?"
Chances are, you'll get a pretty generic response like:
"Oh, it was good!" or "I didn't really like it."
Not super helpful, right?
Well, that's where a beta reading prompt comes in.
It's like the difference between asking your friends for their general thoughts on "Stranger Things" versus asking them specific questions like, "What did you think of Eleven's character arc?" or "Did the pacing in season 3 feel too slow or just right?"
By giving your beta readers a set of specific questions or prompts, you're guiding their feedback to be more focused, actionable, and helpful for your writing process.
The Elements of a Killer Beta Reading Prompt
Now that we know what a beta reading prompt is, let's dive into the elements that make one truly effective. A good beta reading prompt should include questions about:
Are there any scenes that drag on or feel rushed?
How well does the story flow from one event to another?
2. Character development
Are the characters well-rounded and relatable?
Do their motivations and actions make sense?
Are there any inconsistencies in their behavior?
What are the central themes of the story, and how effectively are they explored?
Are there any moments where these themes are confusing or unclear?
Is the setting well-established and easy to visualize?
How does it contribute to the overall atmosphere and tone of the story?
Does the dialogue feel natural and true to each character?
Are there any conversations that seem stilted or unrealistic?
Are there any plot holes or inconsistencies?
How well does the story build tension and maintain interest throughout?
7. Overall impressions
What was the reader's favorite part of the story?
What areas could use improvement?
Customizing Your Beta Reading Prompt
The beauty of a beta reading prompt is that it can be tailored to suit your specific needs as a writer and the unique aspects of your manuscript.
Feel free to add or remove questions based on what you're looking to get out of the beta reading process. You might want to ask about the effectiveness of a particular subplot, the believability of a certain twist, or the clarity of a specific narrative device you've employed.
Additionally, consider the genre of your story and any tropes or expectations that typically come with it.
if you're writing a mystery, you might want to ask your beta readers
if they found the clues and red herrings appropriately placed and whether the final reveal was satisfying.
If you're writing a romance, you could inquire about the chemistry between the characters and the believability of their relationship development.
Mastering the Beta Reading Prompt Technique
As a writer, self-reviewing your work is essential in polishing your manuscript before it reaches your audience.
One effective method to do this is by utilizing the beta reading prompt. To get started, first read through your story, taking notes on areas that require improvement.
The beta reading prompt serves as a guide to focus your feedback on specific elements of your manuscript. Feel free to customize the prompt by adding or removing questions or modifying the wording to suit your needs. Start by pinpointing the areas where you'd like feedback. Then, brainstorm questions that will bring forth specific and actionable feedback related to those areas.
Organize your questions into categories like pacing, character development, and themes, and refine the questions for optimal clarity and specificity.
Finally, test your customized beta reading prompt on a small group of beta readers to gauge its effectiveness, and revise it as needed.
By following these guidelines, you'll be well on your way to crafting a tailored beta reading prompt that will elevate your manuscript
Basic Beta Reader Prompt
This prompt can be used for both ChatGPT and your own beta-readers or superfans.
For the latter I would remove the [Bracketed Tags] and make the ask as light as possible and keep the questions focused on the specific chapter.
Don’t assume they’ve read everything you’ve shared.
You're a skilled beta reader and a super fan of the cyberpunk genre and incredibly knowledgeable about famous works, genre tropes and current trends.
Thank you for reading and supporting my work, and I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback to help improve my story and world. If you want I'm happy to add your name to the acknowledgements for all your help.
[Aim and Context]
In this chapter, I'm trying to increase the tension, and show the struggle these two characters face with the oppressive regime.
If you could answer these questions it would really help me:
1. Did any sections lag or feel boring?
2. Was anything confusing or distracted you from the story?
3. Did it feel like a cyberpunk story? Was anything missing?
I’d then share my chapter with Early Access fans or Practice in Public readers and place this prompt at the end of the chapter.
Remember to be specific and concise, and to focus on the most important aspects of your story.
Keeping in mind that any feedback is gold, and zero responses may be the norm, at least in the beginning.
Overall, the prompt should give your beta reader a clear understanding of what your chapter is about, what you are trying to accomplish with it, and what kind of feedback you are looking for.
Until next week — keep writing friends!
Upgrade to hop over the paywall
On the other side you’ll get these shiny things:
The detailed premium prompt
Tips for building your beta-reading community
The cover image MidJourney prompt
Also I’m working on a new Developmental Editor prompt that I’ll be adding to the Knowledge Gardens (only works for invited subscribers) this week.