|Beta Bio: general description as a beta reader
I’m a history graduate student in his mid-20’s who writes for a semi-living but in an academic setting. As for my beta-reading style, I usually look over a story at least twice in an attempt to find any simple grammar errors which passed through your own editing process while at the same time attempting to find ways to close any plot loopholes and fix any problems that I saw in the work. For basic errors, I’ll fix those without any prompting. Since this is ultimately your story and your story alone, I will only make suggestions on how to fix any problems that I see and even those will probably be infrequent unless you ask for a more detailed critique. My goal is to serve as a second set of editing eyes while helping your story to reach its full potential. However, I do have a few guidelines for anyone who wants my assistance.
1. Ask me to be your Beta-reader- I realize this sounds like a bit of a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people just send their story to be read without asking if you’re willing to look them over. Just fire off a PM with a basic story summery and I’ll try to get back to you in a few hours.
2. Send me an Outline- On a practical level you probably should send me a basic outline of your story along with the first chapter at the latest, and with the initial request for assistance if possible. While I realize this will spoil major plot points for me, my first concern is avoiding getting into an argument over what I see as a plot loophole that actually has a perfectly reasonable explanation…four chapters down the road. While this isn’t a requirement per say, it always helps to have one’s story planned out in advance. Believe me I’m finding that out the hard way.
3. Edit the Story Before Sending: While I’ll try to fix as many typos as I can find, the job of a beta reader is to provide feedback and polished editing, not to serve as a replacement for the spell/grammar check. Ultimately, my beta reading should be the last edit, not the first one.
4. Send all documents in .doc format (not .docx)-Sending the document in word makes it easier for me to edit and make comments in the side margins. Also as I have a Mac laptop, the new version of Microsoft Word is not out for my operating system yet (as far as I’m aware) and sending any .docx files will make reading your story difficult.
5. Be Patient-As someone with a loaded schedule, it will probably take me longer to get back to you than either of us would like, therefore I ask that you’re patient with me both in responding to messages and editing your story, and in turn I’ll do everything I can to respond in a timely fashion.
|My Strengths: beta, writing, or reading strengths
Strong Canon Knowledge: While the number of fields I’m willing to edit for are limited, I do have a strong knowledge of the canon in those fields. Likewise with characterization, although I realize that much of that is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, I should be able to locate and correct any problems with the original continuity.
Willingness to do some Research: However, since no one can possibly know everything there is about a subject, despite how some might act on certain message boards, I’m more than willing to do basic research in order to double check. After all, I spend most of my spare time on Wikipedia looking up this sort of minutia anyways, so I might as well put that time to good use.
Good at Detecting Flaws in Internal Story Logic: As a graduate student, I’m well versed in being able to pick apart arguments and find inconsistencies. While, I won’t go to the extremes that I use in my analytical papers, I should be able to find any potential problems with a character’s motivations and actions or even in keeping a coherent internal timeline.
Competent Editor: I’ll catch the vast majority of basic errors in spelling and punctuation, as well as enough grammatical errors that I should be at least of some assistance in the most central of beta reader duties.
|My Weaknesses: beta, writing, or reading weaknesses
Not the Strongest Editor in the World: By the same token, anyone who has read the fiction I’m currently working on, knows that I tend to let at least a few typos/errors slip through the cracks. Ultimately while I'm okay at fixing grammar it’s not exactly my strong suit either.
Problems With Description/Dull: Since I lack a vivid imagination and most of my writing experience is in academia, I’m not the person to ask for help with creating exciting description, as my fiction writing tends to be dialogue based with minimal descriptive background.
Timeliness: Since I’m currently working on my master’s thesis, my responses will not be prompt, sometimes taking as long as a few days to respond to a simple message. As for returning drafts, it depends on when I get the material but expect about a week turnaround even during the lightest workloads, perhaps even a long as a month during times of academic crisis. If you want your story returned to you in a few hours, you’re probably best off looking for another beta reader.
Not the best at explanations: Simply put, I'm not always particularly good at explaining why I think someone should do something. In turn, I can get frustrated when my initial attempt fails, leading to increased tension between both parties. While I’ll do my best to articulate my opinion clearly, I can’t make any honest guarantees that occasional problems won’t arise from time to time.
|Preferred: types of stories I prefer over others
In my Fandom: Since my major strength is in canonical knowledge, I would prefer than any story submitted to me is within the three fields listed below. If you send me something from outside them, I’ll send back a polite message that you’ll probably want a beta reader who is better versed in that material than I am. If you really want me to read your story, I'll take a stab at it, but the results probably won't be very good.
Alternative Universes (Within Reason): Basically I have a soft spot for stories that break the mold and move away from the tried and true tales already fully expressed in the main storyline, while at the same time still tying in the original story’s canon and characterization.
Characters as Flawed Human Beings: The more complex the character the better, after all something that all three of these programs have in common is that the characters are nuanced and flawed human beings. While I not saying that they should sit around and spend all day being mopey and angst ridden, they should not be able to shake off major emotional trauma like they’re on happy pills either. Unless they're actually on happy pills and that's one of their flaws. (Or course, the bounds of this feeling depends on the sort of story you’re writing, a humor story has a lot more leeway than a straight action one)
Relationships: Honestly, I might be the only Eva fan who is shipping agnostic. While I’m personally more of a Shinji/Misato guy (although I’m currently kicking around ideas with three of the four major pairings) I realize that feeling is because I would probably prefer her if I was in Shinji’s sort of situation, while also noting that Anno himself supports the whole Shinji/Asuka relationship. Any reasonable relationship (both het and slash) is fine with me.
Particular Types of Stories: I have an unusual fixation on Evangelion stories that are police procedurals, which while rather odd on the surface three such stories are currently posted on ff.net (including my own). Outside of that odd preference, everything checked off on my list is fine with me.
|Would Rather Not: I do not beta for these stories
Porn Without Plot/Lemons in General: While I fully understand that romance and sexuality can play an important dramatic role in a story, I’d prefer to avoid all the gruesome details if at all possible. Any straight up porn stories will probably be returned unread; after all, if I wanted to spend my time on such material I’d go to the backroom of the local video store. That said a sex scene or two by themselves is fine assuming the concept makes sense in the storyline and is tastefully written.
Parings that Make No Real Sense: While I’m a liberal sort of guy, the pairings in your story should at least make sense in the canon. For example, while I certainly don’t think that Anno was a Shinji/Karowu shipper, I can at least see the argument for such a relationship and have no problem with a story with a Shinji/Karowu pairing. Shinji/Pen Pen on the other hand, well that just crosses the line a whole bunch of times. (And yes, stories with that pairing do exist, the wonders of rule 34 in action). In essence, if you can explain why and how you’ve come up with an unusual paring, I’m willing to consider reading your story.
The Same Old-Same Old: Your story should have some sort of new wrinkle or plot divergence. Just don’t retell the plot of the original program verbatim and you should be fine. After all, If I wanted to rewatch Evangelion, I’d break out my DVD’s
Characters as Superheroes: There is nothing in fan fiction that angers me more than watching canon characters get warped into, for example, ShinjiSue. If I wanted to read a story where the main character is a crack shot who beats the hell out of people and is bonking the female lead by the end of the second chapter, I would read something other than Evangelion. Personally what I always found heroic about Shinji is that he is a sacred teenager who is, let’s face it, kind of a wimp, and yet he still manages to pull everything together in order to protect humanity. (Well at least until the collapse in the final episodes and the OVA’s but that’s beside the point). Warping his background so much strikes me as bordering on insulting the character. If you want to write that sort of story, that’s fine with me but you really should find a different beta-reader.
Mary Sue or Superpowered OC’s-Well, if I don’t like ShinjiSue, it should come as no surprise that a good old-fashioned MarySue would also raise my ire, although generally these annoy me less than screwing with a major canon character. I have no problem with the creation of original characters, and in fact believe that they’re probably necessary in any story of decent length. However, the canon characters should always remain the focal point of the story.