For Christmas 2015 (this xmas? last xmas? I’m so confused) I printed out the first four chapters of my work-in-progress fantasy novel, The Children of Falore, as part of my younger sister’s gift.
She loved it. And by that I mean that the next day she marched up to me demanding more. So I’ve been printing chapters as I finish them (yesterday she devoured chapter six).
When I gave those chapters to her, my plan wasn’t to get a free beta reader. But that’s exactly what I ended up with. Yes, she absolutely loves the story, but she’s also not afraid to point out flaws.
“I’m confused about where they are. Can you draw a map?”
“I love this character. You should write more of him.”
“I still don’t understand [plot point]. You need to explain it better.”
Etcetera, etcetera. Not only does my sister not concern herself too much with hurting my feelings in terms of telling me what she doesn’t like or understand, she’s very quick to provide feedback. If I give her a twenty-page chapter, she’ll have it read in fifteen minutes. What’s more, she stays after me to keep working.
I didn’t ask her to do any of that. I didn’t plan it. I just wanted her to have fun reading the first chunk of my story. In return, and quite unintentionally, I’ve found the best beta reader ever.