|Beta Bio: general description as a beta reader
Who I Am
I have been writing since childhood and knew by the 7th grade that I wanted to be an English teacher when I grew up. During college and graduate school, I was always the person who read and edited my fellow students' papers for them. I took creative writing classes all through high school and during my first two years of college, then I gave up creative writing for a while due to my workload. When I began teaching English in 1998 I found that the amount of time I spent writing lesson plans and grading papers prevented me from writing and I gave it up for a while. Sadly, that "while" ended up being ten years. I have only recently returned from my long hiatus. However, keep in mind that throughout my break from writing, my primary job was to help others to improve their writing and to teach them the grammar rules that they were breaking so that they would not make the same errors in the future.
My beta-reading style
If it is possible for you to send your story to me as word documents, I would like to send them back to you using the MSWord "notes" feature because the notes give me the ability to comment on a certain section without having to copy and paste that section or retype it. Notes can be of unlimited length so I can simply say "Insert comma here" or if I think it's an error you've made several times, I can explain the rule so you'll know for the future. When you get your story back, there's nothing for you to delete. You just make the changes you want to make and upload at will.
What? Am I teaching again? Is this the first day of school? Okay... I'll say something here, just so you do know what to anticipate in dealing with me. 1) I hope that if we disagree over some spelling or grammar rule you won't get all offended if I whip out a dictionary or a grammar book to support my position. I was taught to do that long ago and old habits die hard. It's also a good habit to get into. If you can always back yourself up with a rulebook, it's not "you" who made the error. This carries over into working and publishing as well. If you follow a style manual, you'll not go wrong. 2) I expect that we decide at the beginning whether you will be announcing to anyone that I'm your beta or not so that there are no hurt feelings midway through if I happen to mention to someone that I beta for you or if you don't mention me or whatever. 3) I expect that if you decide that you don't agree with my comments as a beta and never make any changes, we stop our beta relationship because if I spend oodles and oodles of time suggesting corrections and you disagree with them all and post exactly as it originally was... that means we wasted your time, my time, and precious time between posts that your readers are waiting for. If it gets to that point, you should start posting without a beta or get a beta who better suits your style. 4) Please be understanding and respectful of my time and I'll do the same. I work full time--still in public education--and now that I'm no longer teaching, I don't have papers to grade and such, but I often have to stay late on my campus because my position now is more administrative. I do my own writing late at night and on the weekends. I try to post once a week on Sunday. If you are able to send me your files on Friday or Saturday, I can probably return them to you Sunday in time for a Sunday or Monday post. Sadly, if you send me the files on Sunday, there is a good chance I won't be able to get them back to you until the following Sunday because there is no guarantee of time to write or beta in the evenings.
Gosh... there is space enough left for me to type 6228 more characters. Do people REALLY post beta profiles that are that long? I feel like I've said quite enough.
|My Strengths: beta, writing, or reading strengths
I think my greatest strengths are grammar and mechanics and mimicking an author's style when I choose to. Because I taught grades 8-12, I had to know all the high level grammar and mechanics, including different forms of citation such as MLA and APA formats. When (or perhaps where) I was in high school and college, grammar rules were still being taught in isolation as well as in context, so I not only had to be able to use commas correctly in my writing, but I also had to know the eight rules for when a comma is required and be able to use the name of the error being made. As a result, I feel I know these things very well. Little details like when the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks and when it goes outside, how to use an elipsis properly (which FFN may not actually allow you to do) when to use which forms of certain words (especially lay and lie) and all that stuff I'm good at. (See? Right there I ended a sentence with a preposition, which I shouldn't have done... but in this case I made a choice to sound informal in the context of speaking directly to you. In order to be grammatically correct I would have had to have said "At these things I excel" but it would have come across in a completely different tone. So, I suppose one could also say that I know when it's okay to break a rule for purposes of conversationality.
|My Weaknesses: beta, writing, or reading weaknesses
I don't think I'm very good with similes and metaphors, though I can point them out easily and improve upon the occasionally, my own writing simply isn't full of them. My own writing is very straightforward and sometimes when I read something by someone who uses a lot of really good metaphors I feel bad about my own writing and wish that metaphors came to me as easily as they do those folks. Even so, that doesn't mean I can't beta for you if you use a lot of them. Perhaps we can learn from each other. Oh yes. And RESEARCH. A few of my readers think I'm good at research but the really sophisticated ones can tell when I haven't done it as fully. If you're writing a piece that takes place any time other than modern day, there might be some research involved. I'll try to help, but after undergrad and graduate school, I'm just so tired of research that sometimes it's VERY difficult to motivate me.
Ah yes! One final thing. I absolutely know the rule regarding "its" and "it's" (its is possessive, like "My dog hurt its paw" and it's is the contraction for it is as in "It's cold outside today). Sadly, though, EVERY time I type it's (or its) I type it with the apostrophe out of habit. I then have to go BACK and take it OUT each time I mean the possessive form. SO... if you see it's used improperly in my story somewhere, don't let it make you think I wouldn't be a decent beta for you. It's a typing problem, not a knowledge problem. And also, please TELL me if you see that so I can go back and fix it.
|Preferred: types of stories I prefer over others
Right now I'm not actively seeking writers for whom to beta, but if someone asks me, I am willing to help him or her out. At this time, the only fan fiction I have written is for Phantom of the Opera, and I feel most comfortable working with writers who are also working on Phantom of the Opera. I have read both Leroux and Kay. I prefer Leroux for my own writing, but I know Kay well enough to be able to beta for it. I've also seen the movie and the music and I recently received the Charles Dance version as a gift from one of my FFN friends, so if you're working with that I can help you out just as soon as I have time to sit down and watch it.
As to those writing OUTSIDE Phantom of the Opera, I am willing to work with a writer who is writing about any fandom with which I am familiar. It wouldn't be possible to list all those I know or all those I don't know (would it be nice if FFN provided a list of check boxes and betas could check those they have enough knowledge of to write about) but I can say right off that if you're working with anime I just have no experience with it at all but I recommend LawIsJustice who is also on here if you need an anime beta. I don't think she has her beta profile set up, but contact her, or contact me and I'll set you up with her. We know each other IRL.
So, without further ado, here's a short list of stories, shows and books that I do know a little something about: Star Trek the original series, House MD, Boston Legal, Kyle XY, Rescue Me as well as all the classic novels such as Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, though not many folks write FF for those, do they? Anyway, if you're not sure, just PM or email me. I check my messages daily.
|Would Rather Not: I do not beta for these stories
First of all, let me say that I'm not disrespecting anything listed under "not my cup of tea" I just feel I don't know enough about it to beta for it. Of course, I can check your grammar, spelling and punctuation whether I know the characters or not, so if that's all you want, we can talk, but if I were choosing a beta, I would want that person to be familiar with my characters and be able to point out when they slipped out of character and when they were really good.
Amime, Twilight, Harry Potter and so on. If you're interested in any of those things, perhaps LawIsJustice and I can work together to help you? It'll make reviews take a little longer, but it will be well worth it, I think.