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What the heck is a beta?

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Suave View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jan 2023 at 6:31am
Seeing as how the Short Story is about to start and there should be more than a few 
new writers joining us, I thought I would explain it. With every contest we have people 
asking what it is, so here I go.

A beta, in NYCM parlance, is forumites swapping stories with each other during the 
contest, so that you can each make comments on the others story that should be 
helpful: such as punctuation, grammar, lack of conjoined ideas.... Maybe the story 
leaves way too many questions as it is read through, your confused with something, 
right word wrong meanings. So, it is sort of like an editor and a proof reading all in 
one, so that we can all improve our story before submitting. It is very helpful.

At some point, after the prompts drop, someone will post a Beta List. This is where 
you find others wanting to beta, and you fill in your info so that people can find you 
and send you their story while you send them yours - the filling in is pretty 
self-explanatory (oh, "open or closed" simply means you're ready to read or you are not). 
It is helpful to find betas that are within a certain time zone so that you are not sending 
stuff at midnight to someone in the same time zone - I am 12 hours opposite to New 
York time, so Australia and the west coast of North America work great for me - I can 
send when I go to bed and it should be returned by the time I wake up, and it works 
the same for them as when they go to bed I am still up and will get it back to them 
before they hit the floor in their morning.

I hope this is of some help. If you have any questions just leave them below and 
I or some other forumite will leave a reply, we are pretty close that way on 
the forums. 

Suave

Here is the link to the Beta sign up.


Edited by Suave - 24 Jan 2023 at 6:52am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2023 at 12:07pm
Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:

stuff at midnight to someone in the same time zone - I am 12 hours opposite to New 
York time, so Australia and the west coast of North America work great for me


Which reminds me, it's tomorrow there but you still refuse to send me the winning lottery numbers.

And I barely remember Bangkok.  It's hot and smells funny.  Almost exactly how much I remember about Manila.  Well, in Manila we were told to stay away from the Presidential Palace because nobody liked Ferd.  In Bangkok we were told to stay away from other areas, which is actually where a lot of people went.

What I really remember about both places doesn't belong here.  Nobody would believe it anyway.

Important point with beta reading, 'Great, I loved it' is the wrong answer, just like 'It sucked'.  Those are useless.  Writers need actionable feedback, even if they don't take action on it.  Beta reading is work, not a few minutes spent enjoying a story, or not.

Positive feedback is nice, but the clock is ticking and the writer needs to get on the less positive stuff.

'Loved the way nothing was on the nose.  The real action was subtext'

'I missed the logic why a character with a obsessive need for self-aggrandizement joined the peace corps.  There were no transitions to explain the sudden shift in priorities'

'The dialog was wordy.  A five page sentence might be a little much for people having drinks in a bar.'  and it's corollary, 'I'm not sure the characters as described are going to utilize polysyllabic erudite vocabulary.  She probably wasn't inebriated, she was drunk.'

'When I got to the end I'm not sure what the point was supposed to be.  Differential calculus would be needed to identify any of the character arcs.'

'The first eighteen hundred and ninety-six words were spent on exposition that did not seem to have any relevance to the remaining six hundred and four.'

'Loved the concept; maybe trim the opening and go into more detail about why the cow agreed to go on a date with the butcher."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jan 2023 at 11:48pm

I can't condone cheating in the lottery. Sorry!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote CoachLisaB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2023 at 11:40am
This post should be pinned forever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2023 at 11:46am
Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

Positive feedback is nice, but the clock is ticking and the writer needs to get on the less positive stuff.


I agree with this up to a point. My Team Beta is really close knit. We usually recognize if there no comment, it's working, and don't fix what ain't broke. 

However, from time to time there's great value in highlighting a particular line or phrase and saying "This is the bee's knees. Don't lose it in editing."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jan 2023 at 11:59am
Originally posted by nod1v1ng nod1v1ng wrote:

Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

Positive feedback is nice, but the clock is ticking and the writer needs to get on the less positive stuff.


I agree with this up to a point. My Team Beta is really close knit. We usually recognize if there no comment, it's working, and don't fix what ain't broke. 

However, from time to time there's great value in highlighting a particular line or phrase and saying "This is the bee's knees. Don't lose it in editing."


Right up until you change a couple lines elsewhere and the bee is suddenly kneeless.  Or the eel elbowless.  I've had to remove brilliant lines only to realize they could be inserted elsewhere with minor changes.

Sometimes you have to let those go and put them in the library for later application.

But your point is very valid.  Darn it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 2:52am

Bump
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 8:15pm

Bump
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bdemoney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 8:36pm
Quesstion.  Once I have a rough draft written of my short story I just keep an eye out for a thread marked beta then correct?  In order to join and have my story read and critiqued?  This is only my second challenge and I really wish I'd known about this for the microfiction challenge I just competed in.  Would have made a world of difference.  Thanks for helping out a newbie!  :)

Edited by bdemoney - 21 Jan 2023 at 8:36pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2023 at 1:46am
Originally posted by bdemoney bdemoney wrote:

Quesstion.  Once I have a rough draft written of my short story I just keep an eye out for a thread marked beta then correct?  In order to join and have my story read and critiqued?  This is only my second challenge and I really wish I'd known about this for the microfiction challenge I just competed in.  Would have made a world of difference.  Thanks for helping out a newbie!  :)

Yup, that is the plan. It is a little too soon for it to go up, no one is ready yet usually.
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