My Alpha/Beta Process

Hello all!

Today's post is a spontaneous production, born out of a desire to start of the new year with fresh, exciting content.

Or I could be that I was bored. You decide.

As alpha/betaing seems to be the buzzword for me this year, I decided to write a post on my alpha/beta process.

I developed this process from two different influences. One was the peer-reviews in both Creative Writing courses that I took during my secondary/post-secondary education. The other is from my own cadre of alpha readers (who are currently trying to keep my sane as I muddle through TWR's first round of edits).

And now, allow me to draw aside the curtain to reveal the first stop on our tour....

1. The First Read - The Glance-Through

This First Read is to familiarize myself with the plot, the characters, the setting and the writing style. I'll look at pacing and organization too - I call it the "plot hole patrol".

I may find some glaring errors during this read, but I mostly look for the "good stuff" in the WIP during this round. I try to answer the question, "what works in this novel?".

I almost never comment during this read. Which is why if someone has me beta for them in Google Docs that I have almost no activity on it for a long period of time. It's not that I'm not doing anything, quite the contrary. I'm absorbing the story. 

And now, I suggest that you hide the children's eyes for this second stage, it's a rather gruesome site...

2. The Second Read - The Shredder

This Second Read is really intense and comment-ridden. This is when I will shred the WIP to pieces, sometimes quite literally. Anything that I find wrong, I'll point out. Anything that I find right, I'll point that out too. All those mental notes that I made during the first read, are put to paper here.

I'm a firm believer in giving clear direction and telling where the problems and the strengths are. Comments that are just a bunch of flailing go to my head and don't help me become a better author. I'd much rather shred these works now when they're in production than have them published and be shredded by people who paid for the book and were disappointed.

Though I must admit, sometimes I feel bad that I'm shredding it so badly. My poor fellow authors....

And now let's hurry onto the third stage...

3. The Third Read - Revising the Opinion

This is the same intensity as the First Read, in which I glance over everything, make sure I didn't miss any of the big stuff, and make final comments. I revise some of my comments if I'm too blunt or I find that I missed something which makes my comment irrelevant.

Sometimes I skip this reading if I'm on a time crunch. Which hopefully will be kept at a minimum this year...

And that concludes the tour!

And now, I'd like to hear from you! What is your process of alpha/betaing? Any tips to share before I sit in the author hotseat?? 

Scribbingly yours,


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  1. I love the phrase "plot hole patrol!" Your whole process sounds so very well-organized and thorough. *appreciative nod* And I quite agree on the value of the shredding stage. There's a place for flailing, but it's like sugar on healthy cereal--too much utterly defeats the point. :)

    Best of luck with your edits, as always!

    1. Haha, thanks Megan!! I try, LOL.

      Agreed, LOL. I hope my betas will shred TWR to pieces, it sorely needs it. And thank you!

  2. It's really cool that you shared how you beta! I'm just now delving into the world of beta-reading, so it was nice to find some tips to add to my tool-belt (and it's nice to know that I am *sort of* encouraged to tear into the book. Nicely, of course).

    1. Thank you Sarah! I'm a newbie at myself, to be honest.

      Oh yes! I want my betas to tear into mine. Maybe it will make the little brat behave, LOL.

  3. You are so organized, Catherine! My comments aren't very helpful (mostly I'm just being surprised by the plot holes), but your system is inspiring me to do better!

    1. Welllll, I wouldn't say totally organized. My system could always use improving, it being so new and all. Thank you, MC!

  4. It's very interesting to have a look into someone else's beta-ing process! I usually only do one run-through where I point out all mild to moderate issues in comments on the doc itself. Meanwhile, I keep track of my severe/fundamental issues in a separate document, which I type up at the end into a page-long detailed summary of good highlights, bad highlights, and those fundamental critiques that need more explaining than should be squeezed into a Google Doc comment xD Hope TWR is going well!

    - Eleanor

    P.S. I haven't been to your blog in a while, so I have no idea if this is still a relevant comment or if you did this 8 months ago or something, but I LOVE the new design! It's so beautiful <3

    1. Hello Eleanor! It's good to see you again!

      Oooh, I like your process too! There are sometimes when my comments really could use a separate document, I should try that.

      TWR is plugging along!! I'm about halfway through the second draft and I'm hoping that once I get the middle straightened out that the rest will fly by and I can get that beta call out in February.

      Heehee, I just redesigned it in December, so your comment is absolutely relevant! Thank you!!

  5. You're so organized, omw. I applaud you!!! I usually just read it once and mark things down. X'D

    1. Thanks, MEM! I used to do that, and then I would reread it and discover more things and it just kinda grew from there....

  6. You have a better system than me. I just read and comment a few things.

    1. Meh. I wouldn't say that - sometimes I overanalyze things to the detriment of the work.


How are you, dear friend? Come closer to the fire, and make yourself comfortable! I'd love to hear what you've been thinking about, even if it's an old post! I only ask that proper decorum be observed.

I always try to reply to my correspondence! Have a blessed day!
~ Catherine