How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

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Dreams of Tanelorn
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How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby Dreams of Tanelorn » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:02 pm

One of the problems I have when I edit someone's writing is that I tend to impose my own style through my editing.

I tend to change a sentence that is grammatically correct, into something that I feel has more of what I think the writer is trying to convey. I also change sentences that are grammatically correct, into a form that I think just flows or reads better.

Am I wrong to do so? I don't want to influence or change someone's style, but I get the feeling that if I don't make the changes, then the writing doesn't sound as good as it could be and would not attract literary agents and readers as much.

How do you guys and gals do your editing when you edit someone's writing?

And also, what is the difference between a review, a critique, and a beta read? And how do you do these?

Any help is appreciated and thanks in advance. :)
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ostarella
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby ostarella » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:51 pm

Dreams of Tanelorn wrote:
> One of the problems I have when I edit someone's writing is that I tend to
> impose my own style through my editing.
>
> I tend to change a sentence that is grammatically correct, into something
> that I feel has more of what I think the writer is trying to convey. I also
> change sentences that are grammatically correct, into a form that I think
> just flows or reads better.
>
> Am I wrong to do so? I don't want to influence or change someone's style,
> but I get the feeling that if I don't make the changes, then the writing
> doesn't sound as good as it could be and would not attract literary agents
> and readers as much.
>
> How do you guys and gals do your editing when you edit someone's writing?
>

Imposing your style on another writer is wrong, yes. One has to have as much discipline while critiquing as when writing. Part of doing that is recognizing the difference between an actually awkward sentence and a sentence that simply isn't written the way you would write it. I'm not a fan of making changes to another writer's work - I point things out and let them decide. I will suggest to the writer that they read a part out loud because *in my opinion* it doesn't flow as smoothly as it could. Or if something is actually awkward or confusing, I will offer an example of how to change it - but the change has to be the writer's, not mine. Then I let it go. I don't refer to it again unless the writer comes back with a question.

> And also, what is the difference between a review, a critique, and a beta
> read? And how do you do these?

A review is what happens after the story is published. It's meant more for other readers than for the writer (many authors/reviewers strongly suggest that writers shouldn't even read reviews and should never respond to them). I don't do these.

As to critique and beta - I come from the world of fanfic, and in that arena those terms are interchangeable. In the arena of original fiction, I believe a beta is used for a final critique before the work is submitted for publication.

How I do a critique/beta (and I've done them for both fanfic and original works) depends on what the writer is looking for and at what stage the writing is at - first draft (yes, I have beta'd those) or last draft. Some writers want the 'full Monty', others are looking only for continuity, plot holes, whatever. Some read through the whole work before going back and doing the crit; I don't. I make notes and comments as I read, because that's how the reader experiences the writing. I'll point out grammatical/spelling errors if I find them repeating themselves, but I don't point out each and every one. And I'll note awkward sentences, as noted above. I'll point out and ask questions if something is confusing, and of course mention inconsistencies. Again, it all depends on what the writer is asking for - I don't want to waste time giving them what they don't want.

The most important thing, IMHO, is to read and comment as a Reader, not as a Writer (some of the best critiques I've received were from non-writers - and, after all, we're not writing for writers ;)).
"The trick of the fiction writer is the beautiful lie..." Thomas Fox Averill

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RobTheThird
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby RobTheThird » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:03 am

I would pretty much echo @ostarella.

Also, while beta reading and critiquing are largely interchangeable, I usually "critique" shorter pieces (in general, up to around 5000 words or so) while I "beta read" whole novella-and-up longer works. I don't think you'll find any hard definition that makes that distinction. It's just how my own thinking goes for those two terms.

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Dreams of Tanelorn
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby Dreams of Tanelorn » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:23 pm

Thanks ostarella and RobTheThird. :)
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby Rosedarling » Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:51 pm

I only make corrections to errors in grammar or spelling. I also might make suggestions to making a point clear or another way of going about demonstrating a situation, but I always make it clear my comments are only a suggestion and as the writer it's up to them to accept or reject my critique.
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Dreams of Tanelorn
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby Dreams of Tanelorn » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:51 pm

Thanks Rosedarling. :)
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MikePhillip
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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby MikePhillip » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:52 am

I've worked with only two editors, so don't have a lot of experience with them, but neither one made any changes beyond correcting spelling, punctuation, and/or grammar. Everything else were suggestions for changes, and if I agreed I had to make the changes. An editor should try to avoid imposing their preferred style on a writer which is why they should suggest changes and not force or make them. The manuscript, after all, is the writer's creation, not the editor's.

Beta reading, is a lot different from editing and discussed on many writing blogs. B-readers provide input from a reader's perspective. When b-reading someone else's manuscript, ask the writer for a list of questions they'd like answered about it, and then answer them. More opinion can be added, but, just as each writer has their own style, they will also want specific information from a b-reader - or should. Reverse holds for writers - make sure your b-reader(s) answer *your* questions and not just the ones they come up with. Beta readers are the primary reason I have four novels languishing on my hard drive because I can't figure out how to fix them so readers will buy and enjoy them. :lol:

Critiques are, in my opinion, a free-form conglomeration, yet condensed version, of an edit plus a beta read, and as such, aren't as valuable as either of its parts.

As already pointed out, a review is written, usually after publication, by a reader for other readers.

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Re: How do you edit, critique, and beta read someone's work?

Postby Dreams of Tanelorn » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:06 pm

Thanks MikePhillip. :)
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