Finding Readers, Post Two: Alpha Readers
Getting readers at the various stages of our writing is essential.
But, how does a person do so?
Once we get an idea on paper, and we start developing a story, the next step is to get more focused feedback on our story structural elements.
Stage Two: Completing the First Draft
Alpha Readers – Those that like to help you smooth out your story by focusing on specific issues.
** These readers are often specialists who can provide feedback on specific elements.
** These readers will be best utilized by showing them snippets of your work
** Some Alpha Readers can be Beta Readers
Structural Elements of Writing Alpha Readers Should Give Feedback On:
Specific IF Elements To Get Feedback On:
** Main Character (Player) Elements (ie. self insert vs author insert issues)
Avoiding elementary writing mistakes such as “telling rather than showing” is also a possible emphasis for Alpha writers, but for this type of feedback, Alpha Readers should have a writing background or experience in either testing or proofreading.
The purpose of alpha testing is to complete your first draft as smoothly as possible. The smoother your first draft, the better beta phase you will have (which will be explored in the next post).
The best way of doing this is to provide a section of writing at a time for them to test. Chapter by chapter, snippet by snippet, or specific word count by specific word count. (I show snippets of 300, 600, and 900 words at a time usually).
Alpha readers are also essential for specific themes and focuses in your story.
I’ll provide examples from my own writing:
In one of my stories, I have underwater scuba scenes. I have a scuba instructor and an underwater shipwreck diver as an Alpha reader who advises me on what needs to be improved on to make such scenes work.
In my rewrite, I am trying to improve my npc character development. I recently showed alpha readers a rewritten character introduction. They were able to give feedback on these changes, and this feedback helped me make sure my rewriting was on track.
Alpha readers are often readers you find specifically to help with a particular issue or whom you develop a working relationship with over time.
Many writers have different writer groups or workshops they participate in and use for alpha reading purposes. These can be in person groups (classes, social get-togethers etc.) or be online through services such as Discord, Facebook Groups, and so on.
I pull a lot of my alpha readers from my game testing background. For the scuba instructor, I approached a local shop owner in my area and asked if he knew of someone that would be willing to help.
This is the phase you most likely have to be a self-starter … there are ready-made options available for the beta phase, but not so much the Alpha stage of your project.
Something that people do in this community is they start private testing groups, done through DM or through Discord.
Once again, a Work in Progress thread is not conductive for this phase.
If you do decide to use a WiP thread for this phase, the best thing is to direct the feedback with specific questions, prompts and polls… examples that work here are: romance option polls. This community loves to give feedback on romances.
As with the First Reader phase, focus on those posters’ feedback that follow what you ask for. Ignore the rest.
It is too easy to have your project derailed if you are not careful at this stage of your project.
Up Next: Beta Readers