June 11, 2010

Sue's interview with Jess from Project Team Beta

ALRIGHT. Today's post, as you can see, is me keeping my promise to Lambie, to talk about the wonder of betas, and what they can do for a fic. In this post, I did an e-mail interview with Jess from Project Team Beta. This is a neat place, where you can go to find a group of people, who will help you with your fic. Let's remember what we have learned about Betas, my dears:
  1. A beta is more than just a buddy, who reads and checks out your commas are in the right place. 
  2. A beta will be honest with you, and check your story for continuity and content. 
  3. A beta will tell you what sucks and what does not. They will tell you in a way that will inspire you to be better! 

SO, let's learn about Project Team Beta, how they got started, and why and what it is that they do for the fics we love:

1.  How did Project Team Beta come into being?
I started Project Team Beta over a year ago.  I wanted to do something to help improve the quality of writing in the fandom, and I also wanted to help give back a bit to a group of people that had been very welcoming of me.  Originally, I intended to just be a beta on my own.  I quickly realized that there were far more people looking for betas than there were people offering their services as a beta.  I decided to start up a group to help fix that.

2.  What possessed you (as a group) to want to be a beta?
I, personally, wanted to become a beta for the same reasons I started Project Team Beta: I wanted to help improve the quality of writing, and I wanted to help give back.  I didn't really know how much I would enjoy editing until I really became immersed in it, and I do, I love it.  I have learned so much about writing through my time with Project Team Beta.  I also reached out to a few of our betas, and here is what they had to say:
"Part of it was altruistic and part of it was selfish.  The altruistic part: like you, I wanted to do something to give back to the fandom in some way.  I've gotten hours of enjoyment out of fic reading and made such great friends, and it seemed like a good way to put my language nerd skills to use.  The selfish part: I get sick of seeing fics that would otherwise be good with punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes... the nice way of saying that is I wanted to make the fandom a prettier place."   
- Mac 
"I also enjoy editing, as well as just being a small part of a creative process. I really love getting a first peek inside of someone's head, to see how they interpret the characters and watch the ideas they have grow and manifest. But, I also hate finding a story with an excellent or intriguing plot, only to start reading and have my hopes crushed by mistakes that could have been caught by a beta. If I can be the person that keeps a good idea from being a bad story, well, then I feel like I have accomplished something." 
- MojoPen
"I wasn't a writer, but have always been good at editing, I wanted to improve the fandom, etc.  I think the "getting involved" aspect was big, too- not only did I want to contribute, but I wanted to be able to meet people and forge relationships. I agree that when I got involved in the fandom, it felt like everyone knew each other or at least knew their own little group, and I wanted to be able to form those sorts of relationships as well.  While the "getting involved" aspect is what originally convinced me to join PTB, I would say that the "accomplishment" feeling is more what makes me stay.  It's really fulfilling to watch an author grow over the course of their story and know that you helped them to do that." 
- FuriousKitten
"I beta because I simply love editting. I'm sort of fail at writing my own stories, because I have a difficult time coming up with original plot ideas. However, I am good at making other people's writing sound even better. I've been an avid reader since I was a child, and this is another way for me to participate in the world of literature. I also love the feeling of helping someone else become a better writer. It is very rewarding to see an author improve from chapter one to the end of the story and to know that you had a hand in getting them there." 
- CoreenM  

3.  I went to the Project Team Beta website, and I was a little intimidated.  What can I do to use your service?
The first thing you need to do is apply.  If you would like to join as a beta, you should fill out a beta application.  If you would like to have us edit one of your stories, you should fill out a story application.  You should fill out one story application for each story you would like us to edit for you.  A mod will email you back with more information about our group and will tell you what else you need to do to become a member of Project Team Beta.  

4. Why do you think a beta is important for a story?
I am the type of person who believes that if you are going to do something, you should do it to the best of your ability.  This is especially true when it comes to writing.  A beta will help you write the best story you can through creative and technical feedback.  I also think that a beta can be a support system.  As an author, my betas encourage me and are there to bounce ideas off of.

5.  I am new to the fandom.  How do I find a beta?
Well, as mentioned before, you can go to our website and fill out a story application.  We can help you find a beta who is qualified to offer technical writing advice and is accountable when it comes to returning chapters.  I also know there are places to help you find a beta on the Twilighted forums, and I'm sure there are similar resources on other posting places.  In addition, I know that sometimes people will message their favorite authors and ask for help.  I don't know how successful these other options are, but they are options.

6.  What makes a beta a good beta?
A good beta is a combination of several things.  A good beta has knowledge of how to write in a technically correct way.  A beta wouldn't be much good if they couldn't tell you how to correctly punctuate dialogue or how to properly use a comma.  A good beta is honest.  They will not sugarcoat things for you.  If something isn't working with your story, a good beta will let you know.  They will provide you with creative feedback, some good and some constructive, because they truly want your story to be as good as it can be.  A good beta is timely and communicates well.  They don't make you wait two weeks for your chapter, and if it is going to take them a bit longer, they will email you.  A good beta will know how anxious you are for their feedback, and they won't leave you hanging.  And probably most importantly, a good beta is in this learning process as well.  They won't know everything, but they will be looking for opportunities to expand their knowledge and improve their abilities, while they are helping you do the same.

7.  What should I expect a beta to do to my story?
I can't tell you what every beta will do to your story, but I can tell you what you can expect from Project Team Beta.  A beta will provide you feedback on the technical aspects of your story.  If you are incorrectly punctuating dialogue, we will point it out and show you how to fix it.  The same holds true for other forms of punctuation, for tense, and for grammar.  We will also provide you with creative feedback.  If we think your characterization could use improvement, or your dialogue isn't natural, or your descriptions aren't vivid enough, we will tell you.  I ask that betas with Project Team Beta comment on anything and everything they feel is necessary to help an author improve.  We will offer you a lot of constructive feedback.  But, we will also tell you what we think is working well for you.  If you have a really unique plot, we are going to let you know.  If you have a fantastic ending line, we are going to let you know.  Our goal is to help you write the best story you can, to help you improve as an author, and we are going to do everything in our power to achieve that.  On the flip side, we also have expectations of our authors.  Improvement is not a one way street.  We expect our authors to put as much effort into writing and editing as our betas do.  If we spend a lot of time on one chapter showing you how to correctly punctuate dialogue, we expect that you will learn something from that feedback and have less problems with dialogue punctuation in the future.  We are here to help you, but we can't do it without your help.


And that was my little interview, my dears.

NOW, if you have any Questions, I hear that PTB has a lovely forum over at their site where you can chat with the betas, and ask Questions and get more help.
Project Team Beta
I encourage EVERY author to get at least one beta. Trust me, as a reader, we can tell the difference. A beta will help your story be the best it can be!


1 comment:

lilacs46 said...

I just wanted to say, thank you. PTB has some of the best beta's out there in the fandom. I already had one good beta for my fic, but I needed another, because the second one I had sent one of my chapters back, stating I only needed to correct two things. LOL I KNEW that couldn't be right, because I am still new to writing and I have a lot more to learn. So, I filled out one of the story forms asking for thier help. I let them know that kimmydonn, was already my beta and I wanted to keep her, but that I needed a second beta. In less than two days, I was accepted. When they returned my first chapter, I sent in the second, asking if ruthperk would like to continue on as a permanent beta for my story. Turns out, she had asked them the same thing. :) These two girls are awesome beta's! They have no problem letting me know where I need to improve. I love that. I want to learn and the only way I can is through honest feedback.

Thanks PTB!

BTW, If you haven't already, you should check out Jess's fic, Eight Years Later. It's an awesome story.


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