It's probably the first time I'd be Beta-reading through the internet but I've done so in many works both in school and among friends. My criteria in reading through works:
- How believable are your characters?
- Are they consistent in their behavior, attitudes, decisions, manner of speaking?
- Can a reader have an idea of who your characters are?
- Is the world in your story believable? Is there a culture? An idea of history? A believable society with which the characters move in?
- Do the happenings in the story actually happen to begin with? (Basically, I look into the events leading to the event. I believe that nothing happens all of a sudden. There should be an indication, a process, which leads the plot. Life is hardly spontaneous. The decisions we make in the past and present will reflect the future).
- For historicals, contemporary: are the facts presented...facts? (As I writer, I entail a whole lot of research on works that demand research. For example, a heroine mentions using paper, but the story is set in the Medieval...did paper exist then? I am completely in love with accuracy in text, and I take time in finding out the facts.)
- Do the characters retain their characters? This is especially true for fanfiction. The voice of the original characters must still be found in the fanfiction. For example, Harry Potter is a kind of serious character in the original, he hardly cracks jokes, is very moody (especially in the later books), and is intent on achieving his goals (eg kill Voldemort). In the fanfiction, he shouldn't suddenly be a happy humorous person cracking jokes on every paragraph. There should be retention of the original work, and if there is a change, there should be a reason behind it. (eg Harry Potter got a big dose of happy pills)
- No matter how creative a writer is, one must still serve as a writer. A writer does not write for himself or herself. He or she writes for the readers. And the minimum service for writers is SPELLING AND GRAMMAR.
- I always look into unity in the "subtext" of the writing. Is there a particular tone used? And if so, does it fit in the story?
- Vague and ambiguous work...sometimes. I always make sure that the reader will not be confused to the point that it makes the brain bleed. There should be reasons behind such ambiguity - and these ambiguities should be resolved in the ending.
- How unique is the story? Or is it just another one of them fanfictions? As a writer, I always strive to break away from usual plot lines, and I try to make a world that is as unique and as real as possible.
- Is the story completely yours? Even if it is an adaptation, a fanfiction, it should still be yours, and not an appropriation of the original work.