How many Ares' does it take to beta read a fic?

One. But he will trample your frail self-esteem in the process.

The purpose of a beta read is to improve the quality of the presented written word. You can be nice while as the same time telling someone their story was horrible.

Ex: You have a good premise but the actual body could use some work

Translation: You have a plot that could make an interesting story. if it didn't sound like it had been written by a kindergartner.

This is the beginning of constructive criticism. It is your job, as a beta reader, to help the writer improve upon his or her existing abilities. Feel free to point out what is wrong, awkward, or just plain stupid. But make sure you then suggest a way for it to be corrected! That is why the word constructive is attached to criticism. Do not say something is horrible or incorrect if you cannot explain why.


Me : "Bob"! Read my fic!

"Bob": Okay

*time passes*

Me : So what do you think?

"Bob": It isn't very good. You have poor writing style.

Me : (in tears) Really?

"Bob": Yes.

Me : (angry at other beta readers for "lying") Why?

"Bob": You just do.

Me : So what is wrong with the story besides the style?

"Bob": Nothing.

Me : But it is still a bad story.

"Bob": Yup.

The above is not helpful. In the end it turned out my style was merely different than what my beta reader had been taught in his creative writing class. His teacher had forced everyone to write a certain way, leaving no room for deviation. To say the least, though, I had been devastated and quietly withdrew from the world of writing, intending to never publish the story that had occupied my every waking moment for over two months. Fortunately, all my other beta readers (I had six in all) convinced me to post it and I am happy I did so.

Chapter summation- If you're going to be an insensitive clod, be a useful insensitive clod.