How to Organize Your Beta Notes…

For those of you who follow me on Instagram….You may have noticed that I was in Switzerland a few weeks ago for a wedding. One of T’s co-workers not only married his wife (they already had the civil wedding last year) but they also baptized their son Rafael. The couple is known in our circle as MELO….who you may remember from our 5 Lake Hike in Switzerland a few years ago. MELO is a Swiss thing like Brangelina or Bennifer (you know the whole celebrity pairing name mash up business? – Yeah the Swiss are into that). We are still very close friends with them and we were so happy to celebrate such a special day with them 😀

We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog post….

Congrats – you have managed to find your betas and they come back with wonderful and constructive notes! Yay! Now the question….how the hell do you organize it all?!

This was actually a conundrum for me as well. Before I only ever had a few Betas at a time so organizing 2 or 3 isn’t bad….but 8? Blargh.

I scoured Authortube for a while to see what other writers recommended and I found Vivien Reis’s video on organizing Beta Reader Feedback (I posted the video below because she gives some great ideas). I didn’t do everything she said (especially about getting the betas to name their files when they sent them back. Also each of my betas wanted the manuscript sent different so it wasn’t done chapter by chapter).  HOWEVER! I did print off my entire manuscript and actually color coded my betas notes and wrote them in.

The end result was one large klusterfuck….

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Sorry for the blurry image….I don’t want to give away too much on the novel yet….

Also it looks a lot worse that it is…..it’s also from the first few pages – where your readers are just getting into the swing of both your writing and your world. They are bound to have questions (I also have compliments on here, too. It helps to know what works). The rest of the manuscript doesn’t look like this…I promise.

What did I learn? It helped to see where my Betas agreed (making a checkmark over a comment another Beta mentioned), how their mind works, what kind of questions they had, as well as to what conclusions they jumped. Overall, my notes were small things (I know they don’t look small on paper but trust me). Once I tweak the million of little things I have here…my opening is pretty solid. However, one of my betas gave me an awesome idea for a more hook-y beginning so the first page will be rewritten.

What do I recommend? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaybe not color code. It’s not necessary but I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE stationary and wanted to use my pens. So I would likely do it again cause it was fun and when I saw a comment I was not sure of, I knew who it was from and I knew who to ask (if necessary). But if you don’t want to go crazy color like me, you’ll be fine. Check out Vivien’s video below to see what she did.

Anyway, has been Abner is a great little cheerleader – even when he demands to be a part of the writing process.  Unfortunately, his ideas aren’t always the best…..He insists on giving kisses constantly. Those work out in my romantic scenes….but not so much in the action ones.

So that’s how I organize notes from multiple people. It is a lot of work but you learn sooooooooooooo much when you see where multple betas agree (especially on a certain plot point). You also learn where you grammar is weakest as well as certain phrases that you repeat ad nauseum and don’t realize. I high recommend it.

What about the rest of you writers? How do you organize you beta notes?

Bis nächste Woche!

 

 

 

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