|Beta Bio: general description as a beta reader
I am a former fanzine publisher (POWER STAR, THE HOT CORNER), and love to read other people's fanfic. As a writer myself, I know how hard the process of story writing can be, and I am very supportive of my fellow writers. As a Beta Reader, though, I can be quite tough. That said, I believe most writers want their Betas to be both tough and supportive, because the very process of choosing to use a Beta Reader is indication of the writer's desire to improve their work.
|My Strengths: beta, writing, or reading strengths
I am probably the biggest grammar nitpicker you will ever meet. That also goes for punctuation, spelling, usage of italics and bold, etc. I took the Myers-Briggs personality test several years ago. When the results came in, I scored as "ISFJ" (Introverted, Sensory, Feelings, Judgment), with a "S" score so high my evaluator admitted she'd never seen one higher. As she described how a "S" functions in the workplace, I asked a question: "When evaluating a document or reviewing a memo, which does the 'S' notice first: The content, or the wording?" Her answer: "The typos." "Boy, I really am a 'S'," I responded.
I'm also a stickler for well-written dialogue and story pacing. Years ago, an actor read one of my fanfics and gave me some of the best advice I'd ever received on writing fanfic, advice I've since committed to heart and follow almost religiously, and advice I use when Beta Reading fanfic. His tips:
(1) Every character has their own voice, and any dialogue or monologue in your story should reflect that voice and not your own.
(2) All dialogues must serve a purpose. If you intend for, say, a phone call to shock the other characters in the room, do not have the character on the phone tell the call receiver the shock point--for example, if the shock point is "Mary's dead", the calling character should not "say" in dialogue, "Mary's dead," only to have the receiver repeat to the other people in the room not on the phone, "Mary's dead." Excise parts of dialogue not needed, and be ruthless about it.
(3) The mood of your story affects its pace--if two characters are sharing pent-up emotion, for example, the story should move at a gentle but building pace; if your story is an action/adventure tale, the pace should be quick and nimble.
(4) Exposition, while a necessary evil in some cases (particularly if your story centers on a TV show or movie not familiar to a large segment of the general public), should be kept to a minimum and DEFINITELY should be kept out of dialogue where possible.