Beta Reader Questionnaires – Too much? Also, Dangerous Women review

Finished Dangerous Women, the one edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois. Pretty neat stuff, so I wrote up a quick review. Will put this down the bottom of ze post.

My own story is going great guns. I’m thinking about how to polish it up…

I like the cover art that I’ve done, but I wondered if it don’t have enough spunk to it, not enough action, no fiesty characters to grab the reader by the chops and say “Read the damn book, ye scurvy dog! Yaaaar!”

Well, I found a guy who does neato artwork, so might be commissioning something from them. Fingers crossed.

Final bit I’ve been figuring out is what questions to hit up my beta-readers with… I’m sure you’ve all got lists of questions you’d ask (or you’d just leave them to be completely free with their comments, I guess that could be better, in a way), but here’s mine.

  1. Your favourite character…
    1. Who?
    2. Why?
  2. Your least favourite character…
    1. Who?
    2. Why?
  3. Please give your opinion on the female characters in general:
    1. Did they act believably?
    2. Were they compelling?
    3. Would you be happy being them / having them as family?
  4. First chapter – Page-turner, Struggle, or In-Between?
  5. In the story as a whole…
    1. What worked?
    2. What didn’t?
  6. Were any parts…
    1. Confusing?
    2. Inconsistent?
  7. Did you feel that anything in particular wasn’t concluded satisfyingly?
  8. Did any part of the story make you feel uncomfortable (make you want to stop reading)?
  9. Did you love the book, like it, or does it have a fair bit of Room-For-Improvement?

RFI – continue to 10, Like – please skip to question 12, Love – please skip to question 14

10. Is it… (multiple choice)
a) A big hot mess
b) Good-story potential, but a lot of work TBD
c) Nearly there

11. What is holding the story back?

12. Was this different from the kind of thing you like to read?

13. What could have made it better?

14. Would you say this book is (almost) ready to be published as it stands?

15. How do the writing, character, & plot rate when compared to professional authors that you read regularly? (multiple choice)
a) This is slightly better (Yeah right)
b) About on par
c) Lagging just behind
d) A fair way off
e) Not even the same ball park

And that’s about it. What questions do you guys normally ask, or do you leave it all to them?

Hokay, time for that review…

Dangerous WomenDangerous Women by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite a few good stories in this compilation, but keep in mind that the definition is Dangerous Women, not Butt-kicking Babes. There are a few tales of physically strong, violent women (Jim Butcher’s “Bombshells”, Joe Abercrombie’s “Some Desperado”, & Caroline Spector’s “Lies My Mother Told Me” all do this brilliantly) but most are more about women using their heads and their wills, sometimes for good and others for ill. They usually have agency, but don’t always have stage time. Some are two dimensional. Some sit back-seat to male leads, despite the name of the volume.

The George R.R. Martin novella at the end is told as a historical account, so don’t even bother unless you’re an avid fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I personally liked it, but it felt like an amazing story outline rather than a story on its own.

All in all, worth the read, and I’m going to look into reading more Diana Gabaldon, Caroline Spector, & Melinda Snodgrass.

View all my reviews

Okay, that’s it from me.
Best regards,

D.R.Sylvester

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About D.R.Sylvester

A Clinical Research Associate by day (google it), writer by night, D.R.Sylvester lives in Sydney, Australia with his patissiere wife and Siberian Wolf. His interests include travel, music (predominantly Metal), reading, & archery.
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6 Responses to Beta Reader Questionnaires – Too much? Also, Dangerous Women review

  1. That’s a great list of questions! I’m going to bookmark this for later, lol.

    • Thanks! Please do. I’m planning to ask mostly IRL friends and family, so I thought they’d need a bit of an idea what I’m aiming for (or I’ll get comments like “Wow, so good. Better than Stephen King. You’re gonna be famous!” to which I will have to respond “Thanks mum…”)

      • Yeah I think showing it to everyone, even people that don’t know about writing, is beneficial. Sometimes other writers see the leaves instead of the whole tree. My family won’t read my writing, but that’s okay. I don’t want to force anyone that doesn’t want to read it. I might join a local literary critique group for help.

  2. Generally, I ask beta-readers different things based on what book they might be reading in the series. If it’s book 1 where every main character is established, I’d just want to know their impressions of them. Even if you end up with a character that everyone really hates, that’s not always a bad thing, as long as they don’t hate the character because he’s annoying! The character you don’t want is one that is flat and a drag, or someone no one is going to have any feeling toward at all.
    Then the only other thing I would want to know from a beta-reader is if the general plot line makes sense.
    For subsequent books in the series, I’d actually be a bit more wary of beta readers, since what they say may influence your decisions on plot. Feedback like, “How could you kill this character off?” might cause you to keep that character in when you really want/need to off him.

    • That makes a lot of sense. I will probably have to revise this list a lot for the next book. I think part of the reason I wanted to write out these questions is because I don’t really want the betas to say “why kill this character off?” Instead I’m really interested to hear what they think about the way I killed them off… foreshadowing, letting it serve a higher purpose in the plot, making it believable, yet still powerful.
      I definitely agree about the character likeability, and I might have to re-word that question. My aim is to find out which of the twelve characters was the most/least interesting and best written, not necessarily their most loved/hated. Tim Curry is one of my favourite actors, BECAUSE I’ve hated every single character he played… they were some evil-ass mofos.

      • There are the characters you love to hate, the ones you hate to love, and then there are the ones you just hate. I just read a book recently where every supporting character, including the MC’s love interest, were just ridiculously poor characters.
        I think many beta readers wilk appreciate that you are being specific about what you want them to think about as they read.

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