Types of Beta Reading
I’m interested in the kinds of fanwork that goes on in the production of fanfiction; there’s more than we usually articulate, and I’ve often felt like we haven’t got the language to differentiate between the different kinds of beta work that goes on behind the scenes. So I’ve given a shot at articulating and classifying the various kinds of beta reading I’m familiar with.
SPAG Beta. Spelling, punctuation and grammar. This is your basic line edit. This is the person who catches your typos and silly mistakes.
Dropped Words Beta. Some people might be both a SPAG and a dropped words beta, but I feel this one deserves pulling out. I don’t know about you, but I can’t write a damn sentence without dropping at least a word or two. I think the word is there, I can practically see it there, but it’s not there. Many (if not most) people will add the lost at or an or the in there for you in their minds and not notice, but the laser eyes of a dropped word beta will put you to rights again. To be a dropped words beta you need to be able to look at the text without getting drawn into the story, and that’s both a special skill and a sacrifice for someone who actually likes your story. So anyone who can do this: you are a treasure, a gift, and made of gold.
Plot Beta. This is work that happens at the very beginning, as well as throughout a story. A plot beta is the person you talk your story out with, she’s your sounding board in the creation process. She may not be into SPAG or dropped words, and might not be a britpicker or formatting genius, but that doesn’t matter. Your plot beta’s not really there to worry about your word choice. She’s there to help birth a story with you. I write very long stories, so plot betas come in early go through my outline with me as I construct it. A plot beta is one of the few who end up beta reading an outline, in my experience. Many betas I’ve worked with don’t want to know what’s going to happen next in a story. They don’t want to be spoiled. So you can keep the spoiling conversations between you and your plot beta, and keep surprising a SPAG and formatting beta.
Research beta. This person works with you to help you pin down the bizarre facts you need to get your story right. Like a plot beta, they can act as a sounding board and help you construct the fine details.
Character Beta. This is someone who will act as a north star for you on a particular character. This is helpful if you’re writing about a character you don’t feel entirely certain about, or you just want someone to argue with you about the actions of a particular character so you can feel confident that s/he is at least close to being in character. It’s actually hard to keep the canon core of a character in your mind as you morph and change him/her, so having someone around who isn’t off on your flights of fantasy with you can be helpful in that respect.
Emotional Flow Beta. This is someone who reads your story for its emotional flow. Is it working? Does it ring true? They’re not there to debate whether the characters are OOC, just to tell you if the actions you’re describing feels real. This is related to a plot beta, and can be related to a character beta, but is different than both. Your emotional flow beta might have no idea where you’re story is headed and is just reacting to what’s on the page right now, which is useful. (hiddenlacuna suggests: whump!beta.)
Settings and Location Beta. This is someone who is attuned to the places you’re setting your stories, works well with Google Maps, and is anal retentive enough to correct you if you say it takes forty minutes to walk to that Tesco when it actually takes about twenty-five. This person is often also your Britpicker, but this is a separate service, I’d say.
Britpicker. Everyone knows what a Britpicker is, right? The person who tells you you’ve used the word “gotten” again, and that “recognize” doesn’t have a z in it in the UK. Also it’s a lift for God’s sake, not an elevator! In other fandoms, you may need an Americanpicker or other. (I’ve yet to be asked to act as a Canuckpicker, much to my disappointment.)
*-picker. You can call in an expert on anything, really. If you have violins in your story, call in a violin expert! Cricket? The inner workings of the BBC? Find a picker for that! It never hurts to call in someone with specialist knowledge.
Smut Beta. The person who helps you sort out those insanely complicated sex scenes. This is someone you trust not to laugh their bums off at you as you stumble through this terrifying territory.
Canon Beta. Someone whose inner knowledge of the canon in question is exquisite, and who can make sure you haven’t made any egregious mistakes.
Formatting Beta. This is a person who makes sure your code is clear to be posted. In more complicated stories, this might be a bigger deal than usual.
One person can be many of these things; obviously they’re not mutually exclusive. I think you could merge a few of the pieces and end up with a sort of sounding board beta you talk to before and during the writing, and then the person with the laser eyes you call in once you have something to actually look at. But these are (at least some) of the work that is behind the scenes of a fanfiction story.
If you are someone who would like to be someone’s sounding board, but you don’t really want to be responsible for line editing, you can still offer to beta. It’s just a different kind of relationship, and different expectations on both sides! All kinds of betas are welcome, useful, and intensely valuable!
Did I miss any?
Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its departments by subsequent laborers. As no better man advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon offer my own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of the various species, or—in this place at least—to much of any description. My object here is simply to project the draught of a systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the builder.
“both system and method rest upon the same epistemological base. It can be defined briefly by saying that, in Classical terms, a knowledge of empirical individuals can be acquired only from the continuous, ordered, and universal tabulation of all possible differences" (Foucault 1973, 144)”—Michel Foucault. The Order of Things. New York: Vintage, 1973.
Classifications - Stereo type
As technology takes over the world in this modern world, the population have also started to become increasingly judgemental with stereo types and classifying each type of individual into a category.
Sluts, druggies, nerds, geeks, hotties, jerks, whores, prostitutes, emo, buff, weak…etc the list is endless.
What has happened to the simple minded children that could make friends with everyone no matter who that person is?
Now a days when you first see some one:
1) the first thing you do is checkout their appearance.
2) find one of the above categories to put them in.
3) decide whether they’re worthy enough to be your friend or not.
But, really does it matter who they are? As long as they are nice and friendly. What’s the matter?
Unfortunately ,its not that simple. Along with those titles it comes with descriptions. If you’re categorised as a slut then you’re a bitch. or if you’re a nerd you’re boring. What happened to not judge a book by its cover? So people begin to use this information and this makes them unwilling to befriend people.
And i’m not saying i’ve got anything agaisnt you guys, because to be honest everyone judges. So do I. I just think that life would be so much more simple without us being categorised?
“The ever more complete preservation of what was written, the establishment of archives, then of filing systems for them, the reorganization of libraries, the drawing up of catalogues, indexes, and inventories, all these things represent, at the end of the Classical age, not so much a new sensitivity to time, to its past, to the density of history, as a way of introducing into the language already imprinted on things, and into the traces it has left, an order of the same type as that which was being established between living creatures" (Foucault 1973, 132)”—Michel Foucault. The Order of Things. New York: Vintage, 1973.
Refused Classification: The Best Of - Volume 1
Throughout 2009, three avid Australian video gamers decided it was time the public had a voice in regards to the gaming industry. What was discussed? Along with the banning of games in the land down under, breasts in interactive gaming and all round tomfoolery, there is a lot that blurs the line of morality…as this first edition of their Best Of works scratches the surface of.
The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects
This is a classification system along the lines of the better known Linnean system for biology. The Collier system starts from the more general consideration of living or not living, whether it is whole or part of a whole, where the thing was found, purpose, colour and shape (and more).
The collection link offers up the more unusual juxtaposition of things with almost pronounceable names such as Nelifrag Tablelectro yelolineshini(unlik) which is an electronic resistor in other quarters or one of the pointers from a clock, Nelipart Machapplistabscratch blakepointisharpotherlik.
You get the idea.