So what is the difference?
That's the question. When is a critique partner a beta reader, and vice versa? I'm willing to bet there will be quite a few differing ideas on this, so I'm going to throw out what the terms have meant in my head, and then I'll look forward to seeing how others define the two.
To me, a beta reader is someone who will take the manuscript in its entirety and read it for an overall view of the manuscript. Basically, a detailed review. They're reading it as a reader, not a fellow writer. Their opinion is meant to give you an idea of what your audience might think. Is the book readable? Does it have good flow? Are the characters interesting? Would they purchase this book?
When you seek a beta reader, you're looking for someone to tell you whether anyone would read the book, not necessarily for specifics on character arc, grammar, etc. You want to know about the general readability of your book from them.
|By OCAL, clker.com|
A critique partner, again...to my understanding, is someone we want to read the book as a writer. They're looking for the dynamics of writing. Story and character arc, realistic characterization, plot, theme, grammar. They should be looking at your work with the eye of someone who has experience with the dynamics of writing, someone who has experience writing and/or has attended various workshops and conferences and can give an educated opinion. Rather than looking at what the reader has to say, their opinion should be closer to that of agents and editors. Instead of saying, "Would someone buy this at a bookstore?" as a beta reader would, they should be asking, "Would an agent/editor give this a second look?" Is it salable? Is it ready?
|By Roxy, clker.com|
I have an awesome beta reader (not that I've given her anything recently) who intermingles the two. Though she isn't a writer, she has a great eye, and she is accustomed to beta reading/critiquing her husband's work (he is an aspiring screenwriter). For me, that is perfect, and just what I need. She catches problems with the story flow, the characters, grammar, etc. But she's looking at it from a reader's point of view, not a writer's.
On the flip side of that, I have my critique group, made up of people in various stages of their writing journey. They bring writing knowledge to on the dynamics and specifics to the table. I find having both of these a helpful part of my writing journey, each for their own reasons.
This is just how I see it, in brief. What's your opinion? Have I fudged the two? Do you see the definition of these two terms in a different way?
May you find your Muse.