Pre-readers are angels. I love getting a different perspective on a chapter before it goes out. My pre-readers are amazing. They give me the good but they also tell me what needs help, where there are inconsistencies, what doesn’t make sense. I also whine to them when I get stuck, and they talk me through both the generic and specific ideas running through my head. It really is such a team effort.
Yes, I have used them. Since the story has already gone through a grammar check, from the pre-readers, I just want an idea of how the story affected them emotionally, if there were questions they had that weren’t answered, if anything was confusing.
I am using pre-readers on my original work, but not on my derivative fiction. Through my derivative fiction experience, I have become friends with a few insightful, critical readers who give me honest feedback. They tell me if dialogue seems inauthentic or if my characters do something which seems out of character or if I am being lazy with scene descriptions–that sort of thing. Having that impartial set of eyes is invaluable, because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the “trees” of your work that you don’t see the “forest” of it. You just have to be sure you can put your ego aside and listen to what they’re saying about your work without taking every comment personally. And, ultimately, it is up to the writer to decide what makes up the finished work. No matter how much you may respect your pre-reader, they’re still just a person with an opinion.
BI bug a few friends every now and then, but as a rule, no, I don’t have a pre-reader.
I always have one of my good friends read the chapter while it’s with my beta, or before sending it to my beta. Sometimes, when I’m nervous about a chapter, I send it to more than one person. I expect them to be honest, but also provide some encouragement and support. Let’s be real, we’re not sending our chapters to pre-readers asking them to tear them apart and critique them with brutal honesty. All I want to know before I post a new chapter is that the voice is authentic and right, and that the characters sound/act like themselves. This means the pre-reader needs to know the story well and care about the characters to some extent. And the pre-reader shouldn’t just be there to kiss your a**. That’s not helpful. 🙂
I do use pre-readers and they are extremely helpful. I expect them to be honest with me, first and foremost. Generally, I send them the un-beta’d chapter so I ask that they overlook spelling/grammar errors that my beta will fix and focus on things like story flow and character development. I love for them to copy and paste lines that stick out in a good and bad way. My one suggestion would be to make sure that you are very clear with your pre-reader about what you are looking for from them before they do the read through. They are definitely a very useful tool.
Definitely. If I’m writing from a male POV, I like to have a male prereader on board. For Coming Through the Rye, I convinced a prereader who lives in Scotland to help out. In other cases, I’m just looking for general reaction. For the most part, I’m looking for them to let me know if my characterizations seem off, if I’ve completely gone in the wrong direction, etc. Beta editors are great for this too, but sometimes it’s not easy to see that kind of stuff if you’re looking for mistakes in punctuation and grammar.
I guess Emmy and Jennifer are considered pre-readers/betas. They tell me if they like or dislike something.
Yep! I had a couple of authors reading HOFY as I was writing it, but when I started Devil’s Angel I wanted, and needed, more input due to the mystery aspect of the story. I went through my thread and my reviews of HOFY and picked 5 pre-readers from those that gave me the best critique and weren’t afraid to give me sound advice. I picked the people that truly knew what constructive critique was. What is constructive critique? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Constructive critique is not only pointing out where there are flaws in a story, but also giving helpful ideas to fix it.
With my pre-readers I asked them to be honest and give me their initial gut reaction as they read the story. They added comments as they read and I implemented most of their suggestions. My rule is: If one person comments on something specific then it could be considered a matter of opinion. If more than one person comments on it then I should take another look at it.
I’ve been in a couple of writing groups recently and their insight has been incredible in helping me see where my weaknesses are and where I need to improve. There’s nothing better than getting input from someone you trust and who has your stories best interest at heart.
MINI RANT: I can’t stand it when people hide behind the guise of calling their flaming reviews or snarky comments on a public forum CONSTRUCTIVE CRITISISM. Then, when the author tries to figure out what there issues are, besides: I HATE THIS, they claim that you can’t handle constructive criticism. *sigh* If you can’t give a better solution than the author came up with, then don’t bother giving the criticism because all you’re doing is tearing down the author. How is that constructive?
Depends on the chapter. Usually my beta (who knows what’s going to happen) suffices, but if I have a lot of action I’ll consult my friend and favorite action fic writer, Adorablecullens, and if I have a lot of plotty stuff using canon I’ll probably consult my friend and canon enthusiast Gkkstitch. I have a few secret keepers, and sometimes I’ll bounce ideas off of them. If I’m worried that I’ve written something cliche or stupid, I’ll let my friend and favorite trash talker Algie (d0tpark3r) read it, but only if I’m emotionally prepared to be mocked.
Yes. I want them to be honest if something isn’t working or doesn’t make sense. They help by providing an opinion different than my own. I want my stories to be relatable, if I miss the boat, I want to know before it gets posted.
I don’t. I tried sending early chapters to a couple writer friends for a while, but they were inevitably too nice or too mean, haha, so I would either wind up wanting to trash the entire chapter, or feeling uncertain about whether it was crap or not. Now readers all just read it at the same time. I do read my entire chapter out loud before I post it, though, so my ears are sort of my own pre-reader.
I’ve only used pre-readers once, on the first three chapters of my current WIP. I’d been working on it for almost a year and I’d extensively re-written the beginning several times. I’d lost all sense of perspective and I did’t know if what I had was even interesting to read. So I sent it off to a few author friends and they all patted my head and held my hand while I posted.
Absolutely! I expect them to give me their honest opinion of what they have read. They help me in so many ways, but they mainly let me know how the flow of the story is working and if I am staying true to the characters. Since I am so close to the story, they can pick up things that I may not have seen. Like if I need to expand on a scene or give more emotional information of a character.