Beta Reader Checklist
What questions should you ask beta readers in order to get useful feedback?
In this article, I will share my Beta Reader Checklist. It is a list of questions for you to send to you beta readers along with your manuscript. These questions can help you figure out which parts of your novel need the most work.
Are you currently looking for Beta Readers? Check out my article How to Find Beta Readers.
Now that you have your beta readers lined up, it's time to come up with a questionnaire or feedback form to send with your manuscript. You can send this to your betas in an email, document, or--if you are super organized--in a spreadsheet or online feedback forms. If you are using multiple beta readers, a spreadsheet is a great way to compare feedback.
First, let your beta reader(s) know if you expect line-level feedback such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. That is important since it takes more time to do. Second, give you beta a list of questions for them to focus on while reading. They should look over these questions prior to reading and have them handy while they read. Here is my sample list below. You can copy and paste or take whatever bits and pieces fit your needs.
Beta Reader Checklist:
1. Does the plot make sense? Were you confused anywhere?
2. Did you find any plot holes or inconsistencies?
3. Were the protagonists goals clear?
4. Was the plot fulfilled in a satisfying way?
Subplot (if you have a romantic subplot)
1. Was the romantic subplot believable?
2. Was the relationship healthy?
3. Did you like the characters together as a couple?
4. Was there anything you would change about the romance?
1. Was the protagonist relatable? What did you like about him/her? What didn't you like?
2. Which character was your favorite, and why?
3. Which character was your least favorite, and why?
4. Which character(s) do you wish was developed more?
1. Were there any places the story moved too quickly or too slowly?
2. Were there any scenes that dragged or were boring?
3. Were there any scenes that you wished were expanded?
1. Did the dialogue sound realistic? If not, where did it sound fake?
2. Were the dialogue tags "invisible" or did they pull you from the story?
3. Could you tell who was speaking based on dialogue tags and character voice?
1. Were you able to visualize the setting for every scene? If not, where could more description be given?
2. Were you able to visualize every important character? If not, who could use more description?
1. Was the narrative voice consistent throughout the course of the novel?
2. Where there any overused words or phrases?
1. What was your favorite scene/chapter, and why?
2. What was your least favorite scene/chapter, and why?
3. Did you feel immersed in the story? If not, where are places you couldn't "suspend disbelief?"
4. What are your thoughts about the ending?
5. What were the strengths of this novel? What were the weaknesses?
I hope these questions are useful to you during your writing journey. Remember: no matter the feedback, always graciously thank your beta readers. They are doing you a huge favor and deserve a thank you even if their critique hurts.
My next article will cover how to use beta feedback to your advantage and how to deal with criticism.