Though beta-reading can take up some time, it's thrilling to be able to read fresh and original work from your writing friends. While the writer benefits massively from beta-readers, beta-readers gain a lot too!
Today I'll be outlining five reasons why you might consider helping a writer out by beta-reading!
1) Free book(s)!!!
This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you're like the stereotypical bookworm/bookdragon and always complain about never having enough money to buy books, then here's your answer: beta-reading. It can be a toss-up sometimes on whether you'll get a more polished or a rougher draft, but the only thing you have to pay with is time and energy. Your wallet will thank you!
2) See Strengths and Weaknesses in Your Own Writing
Have you ever heard someone say that in order to write, you must read? This is great wisdom, and I think it applies beyond polished, published books. When you beta-read, you're exposed to stories in a raw state. You get to see both their flaws and strengths, and in doing so, see them in your own writing.
Maybe the story you're beta-reading has excellent characters with so much depth it's awe-worthy. Or maybe it's lacking a little bit in tension that carries the plot along. Or maybe the world-building is fantastic, and sprinkled with little details that make the world come alive. Either way, seeing these strengths and weaknesses when I beta-read always makes me reflect back on my own writing. Do my characters have this much depth? Do I have enough tension? How is my world-building?
3) Understand a Writer's Voice
I used to think I didn't have a voice, or it was so subtle I couldn't find it in my own work. Upon reading the stories by writers also at similar places on their writing journey, I was awe-struck. I saw how different every writer's voice is; how it permeates every sentence, every word choice, every choice of punctuation.
Don't believe you have a voice? Beta-read, and see that yes, you do.
4) Be a Part of Someone's Journey
This is one of my favourite aspects of beta-reading and critiquing. You are there to help a writer strengthen their story, talk about it from a fresh point-of-view, and offer assistance in any way you can. How awesome is it that you get to be part of a story that will (most likely!) become a published novel some day? Ultimately the writer is in charge of making decisions and writing, but you can take satisfaction in knowing you were there to offer a hand when they needed it.
5) Show Some Love!
As much as feedback and critique is vital, a little encouragement can go a long way. You never know when a writer might flip through your comments on a rough day and see some positivity that will lift their spirits. Writing is a hard gig, and as writers we always crave positive feedback. Beta-reading enables you to encourage a writer on their hard journey, and help them make their story the best it can be.
Have you ever beta-read? If yes, do you think it's helped you improve as a writer? If not, I hope you'll consider beta-reading for a writer in need some time! Have you ever had beta-readers before, and are they a great encouragement to you?
Have a beautiful day, and good luck with your writing! <3