||[Feb. 19th, 2012|11:18 pm]
If you're reading my journal you likely know what a beta reader is. If you don't, it's simply (or in practice, not so simply) someone you trust who critiques a piece of writing that you're working on or just finished, or whatever. Beta reading can encompass the range from basic proofreading to deep tissue edits.
Lately, though, I've been considering the idea of gamma readers. As far as I know I just made that up, but it's a pretty simple idea: If you have one particular fear about your own writing, you ask that person to look at your work with solely that one potential problem in mind. In my case it would be "Is this / does this feel too long?", which is my one big personal bugaboo. If the gamma reader doesn't have time to go into a detailed explanation, maybe I could ask a delta reader to just answer the question with a yes or no.
Of course right now I'd want to do this with the first (gigantic) chapter of Arizona, and asking someone to read 60,000 words just to answer a single yes or no question might be a bit much. And if the answer is "yes" without an explanation I suspect this would only feed the paranoia rather than being at all useful.
One of these days I may send out a call asking for a gamma reader. Be wary.