25 questions to ask your beta readers

Recently, I had realised that asking people to beta read for you without indicating the kind of feedback you require is a tough job. They may not know what you require, and as such the purpose is defeated. I have got feedbacks like, I loved this, this is good which is not the feedback I want from a beta reader. So, after some research, I have a list of 25 questions which I will be asking my beta readers. This list is only for works of fiction since that is what I write.

Feel free to use them if you feel they’re useful to you.

  1. Were the first paragraphs and first page compelling? Did they make you want to keep reading? If not, what was the problem?
  2. Did you get oriented fairly quickly at the beginning as to whose story it is, and where and when it’s taking place? If not, why not?
  3.  Could you relate to the main character? Could you feel their emotions?
  4. Which characters did you connect to and like? (Or love to hate?)
  5. Were the characters believable?
  6. Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likable?
  7.  Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names of characters too similar? Too difficult to pronounce?
  8. Could the bad guy(s) be nastier or more interesting? How?
  9. Were the character relationships believable?
  10. Did the setting interest you and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
  11. Which scenes/paragraphs/lines did you really like?
  12. Which parts were exciting and should be elaborated on, with more details?
  13. Which parts bored you and should be compressed or even deleted? What parts did you dislike or not like as much?
  14. What parts resonated with you and/or moved you emotionally?
  15. Did you understand every phrase / term I used? If not, which ones?
  16. Was there a point at which you felt the story lagged or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly?
  17. Were there any parts that confused you? Or even frustrated or annoyed you? Which parts, and why?
  18. Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
  19. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
  20.  Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
  21. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest? Why or why not?
  22.  Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
  23. Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
  24. If you could describe the “tone” of this story, what would it be?
  25. Does the book or the writing style remind you of any other book or author? If so, which book and author?

World Building

Every fantasy writer knows the importance of world building- and also the difficulty of it. The idea of creating a whole new world from scratch can be daunting, but also fun. World building is an area where you can let your imagination run wild. You want creatures that fly without wings? Why not? You want blue trees and a red moon? No problem. Whatever you want, you can create. You are the God of this world, its creator.

World building can also be problematic, if you don’t have a clear idea in your head. You have to make your world detailed enough for the reader, and yet not so detailed that it derails the plot. You need a history for your world, geographical features, flora, fauna, and what not. What about the protagonist of your story? Is he/ she human? Elvish? Some other unknown race that you’ve invented?

There are lots of places where we can get great advice on how to build a world that’s convincing enough and real enough, and I’m sure you’ve all gone through them and knows the basics of how to build a world. In today’s post, I want to showcase two great sites that can be used to build a fantasy world from scratch.

The first is World Anvil. This is a great site for fantasy writers and gamers alike. It may look daunting, but the whole thing is simple when you try it. You can just create a summary, get all the background info in there, and leave the rest for later if you want. Or you can sit down, gather your notes around you, and build the world and its characters. They have a lot of video tutorials that can guide you every step of the way, as well.

The Second is donjon, which is not as comprehensive as World Anvil, but is great for getting the basics out of the way. You can generate worlds, calendars, names and a lot of other things for both fantasy and sci fi. Donjon is also easier to navigate since everything is basic, and can give you an overview of what you want your world to look like. The navigation panel on the left is all there is. Talk of simplicity!

I personally began with donjon and built a basic world which I then detailed in World Anvil, but it need not work for everyone.

I do hope you found this informative and useful. Thank you for reading!