13 Questions to ask your beta readers

As this was highly requested, here is a list of questions to help you figure out what your beta readers really thought about your novel. Often it's a difficult task to get people to share their opinions, but you need to remind your beta readers that they can't help you unless they're a hundred percent honest and transparent with you.

Your job is to write and get feedback, so make sure that you're good at handling criticism so that all of you can get as much out of this experience as possible.

So, there are three ways one can go about the beta reading question process: you can give them all the questions at the beginning, before they've even read the story; you can spread out the questions so that you get feedback after each chapter; or you can ask all of them at the end of the novel.

All of them are good and I recommend trying out different methods to figure out what works for you personally.

One thing I also love doing is using google docs or OneNote to allow my beta readers to make notes, corrections and comments while they read. Just make sure they don't get too caught up in editing the grammar of your novel, because that's not what they're for.

Remember, in the beta reading phase you only want to know how well your story flows as a whole, if your dialogue sounds natural and if your characters seem like actual real life people.

Now, questions.

There are some general questions I'd call 'must-asks':

1. Did the story hold your interest all the way through? Where was the tension lacking and what was it that pulled you in?

2. Are the most important characters believable and consistent? Describe their personalities shortly and your opinion of them.

3. Is it clear what the protagonist wants?

4. Is most of the action driven by the protagonist's goal?

5. Are the minor characters believable and consistent? (you can choose to describe just one or two)

6. What character do you enjoy the most—why?

7. Do you think the writing style fits the genre?

8. How would you describe the writing style? (in a few words)

9. Does this part work as a story opening/inciting incident/climax/ending?

10. What scenes made you the most emotional?

11. Which setting was most memorable?

12. Where did you stop reading the first time?

13. Would you keep reading?

And a bonus-question to make sure you get everything out of your beta readers:

14. What needs more development and focus?

Mood and style?

If you found this helpful, make sure to share this resource with all your writerly friends and fellow storytellers so that together we may hone our skills and become better at this whole beta reading process. It's a stressful one, so let's all support and help each other! I'll see you around!

Don't forget to subscribe to the site and follow my adventures on instagram at @storyworldofem so you won't miss any new writing tips :)

Beta Reader Basics: WHAT are they and WHERE are they?

A beta reader is someone who reads your book--your unfinished book--while it's still in revisions or going through rounds of edits. Their job (although they're not paid in money, but instead given the amazing gift of reading your novel, yay!) is to point out plot holes, irregularities and things that just seem weird and stupid.

You will come to see just how much of your words don't make sense to other people even though thy make perfect sense to you.

That is why beta readers are the best, and why you need them.

There is a right way to contact these mystical creatures called beta readers, though. You can't just go out of the house and yell at the top of your lungs and hope someone comes running toward you.

You have to:

1. Make your novel seem appealing

Write a short, gripping synopsis and describe your book in a way that makes your beta readers want to read it. Think of it as your first practise round of pitching.

2. Make yourself seem like a genuinely nice person and someone worth their time and effort

If you suck and treat people badly when they try to help you, people will remember, and they'll be warning others not to buy your book one day. Treat everyone like best friends and you'll have a great team of supporters for your book already before publication!

3. Decide exactly what you need feedback on

Is your dialogue choppy? Are your characters flat? Make a list of your flaws as a writer and ask your beta readers to pay attention to these things to pinpoint exactly where you need to fix things.

4. Come up with great, specific beta reader questions. 

(I've got a list coming for you on Friday!)

5. Follow up and thank everybody for their help

You need to be able to take the criticism and basically be willing to shred this novel to pieces just to build it back up together. If you do nothing with the feedback you get from your beta readers, then what exactly is the point?

Now the question is: where can you find these mystical creatures?

1. Social media

Social media is truly a lifesaver for writers. It's perfect because you don't need to go out and meet people in real life, and it's also much easier to meet people, period.

If you're at a point where finding beta readers would be the next step in your writing journey, just type in #amwriting, #betareaders or #writingabook and you'll immediately be able to get in touch with thousands of writers just like you. And then you just ask a bunch of them to read your book and give you feedback!

2. The Nanowrimo forums

Every year the Nanowrimo forum buzzes with fellow novel-writers who look for beta readers. Join their conversation, just have fun and get to know people. And oh, right, post your novel's description and ask people to beta read for you.

I just always get so lost in those forums that I never end up doing what I actually go there for. Just a warning :D

3. Writing groups and websites

Check out these ones to see if they're for you:

Absolute Write

Critique Circle

Goodreads' Beta Reader Group

Agent Query Connect

My Writers Circle

Writer’s Carnival

The Writer’s Workshop


Beta Readers and Critiques (Facebook Group)

I hope this helps with the next step in your book-writing journey!

Get in contact with me on instagram to make blog post suggestions or if you have any further questions and follow my adventures all around my storyworld. Happy writing!

Let it flow

"I'm stuck."

Some days it's just so hard to type the words out. To be storytelling. They're in my brain. I can hear them, see them, feel them, even. But I write something and it's not right. It doesn't flow like it's supposed to. It's just a meaningless block of letters and not a magical, living story.

Self doubt is a creativity-murdering monster.

So, today I'm telling you, if it doesn't feel right, just keep writing. Write whatever's on your mind. Write something easy, and then move on to the difficult stuff. Like a little poem, or maybe a song.

You're not stuck unless you say so.

Be there, be writing, be observing the words, instead of intentionally putting them on paper. Let it come, let it out, let it flow. 📖✨

4 mindsets for a better school year

Exactly one year ago I started university, and it was a scary thing. School in general is a scary thing. So whether you're starting uni (wooo) or going to seventh grade, here are some tips from an almost adult human creature with enough experience of school to be giving advice.

All of these lessons I wish I had learned when I was younger, so I hope they will help you to become a better student and a happier human.

Especially number two would have saved me so much stress, exhaustion and tears.

1. Gratitude for learning

It took me a long time to understand that school was for me, not that I was for school. It was more like a burden, because I wasn't learning things I was interested in. I was only doing it for the teachers, for my parents, for some distant future I honestly couldn't see myself ever having and for the opinions of my classmates.

At some point before high school that shifted, though. I got accepted into a performing arts high school, and soon I realized that would change everything I'd thought about school.

No, it wasn't like high school musical (although there were many similarities), but it made school fun.

Find ways to do things at school that you enjoy and excel in. For me, it was music, theatre, fine art and film club. But I also learned to really love geography, biology and English, because every time I went into class I challenged myself to learn something new that could inspire my art and storytelling or enrich the storyworlds I create.

Put in a little more effort, be thankful for your teachers (sometimes that's really hard, I know) and try to find those gems of knowledge that you'll actually remember years from now. And do it for you, not for anybody else.

2. No clutter around you, no clutter inside you

This is something I never learned as a teen, but now pretty much swear by as an "adult". I can not get home after a long day at school and relax if I know there's a mess in my apartment. Just not going to happen.

As you start getting back into the daily (tiring) routine of going to school, going to hobbies, coming home, sleeping and repeating, your surroundings will start looking a little bit like the jumble up in your brainbox.

And the more jumble you have around you, the more your brain will get jumbled. You see my point? It won't ever end.

This new school year, make it a priority to keep your room organized and clean. Make an extra effort to place things where they belong, and that will take you far.

It feels amazing to come home to a place where you can walk across the floor and throw yourself on the bed without having to jump over stacks of books only to land in a pile of laundry.

3. A love for new experiences

Let go of fear and embrace uncertainty. Try new things not because they seem nice, but because they are intimidating. You can't grow if you stay in your comfort zone.

4. Smile and sit straight.

I spent all of my school years feeling lonely and awkward. I was the geeky weird artsy kid and always thought there was something wrong with me no matter where I went. But your quirks make you amazing.

It’s difficult to learn to love yourself, but you can start with a smile and good posture.

Don’t slouch to take as little space as possible. Know who you are and take pride in existing. You are here for a reason, and that reason is yours to fulfill. Do so with joy and confidence, no matter how sad or self conscious you feel.

There’s a spark inside you, and the easiest way to let it out is by expressing that spark with your body and outer appearance.

It’s a scientific fact that we feel happier when we start smiling, and that we feel more confident when we make a confident pose with our bodies. Fake it till you make it is a cliche for a reason. And I totally believe you can make it.

I wish you a very successful school year and hope you find many great adventures along the way!

Enjoy learning and don't take it all too seriously :)

Love, yo big sister Em.

Feeling so small, but desiring to make an impact

Today has been a day of strenuous pondering, planning and note-making.

I have stared out of the window, watched raindrops race down the glass and listened to cars driving by, splashing water on the sidewalks. I've seen inspirational videos and tried so hard to figure out my brain, and now I am exhausted, before even having written a single word.

I am happy. I have joy like I've never experienced in my life. I have everything I need and all I could ever ask for. I am so incredibly blessed every single day. But I keep having these thoughts that make me want to be more.

Because I have been given so much, I want to be able to give back. I want to be a better listener, a better friend, a better creator, a better storyteller, a better source of inspiration, motivation and creative advice.

It's the one last thing that's missing.

To make an impact.

I feel like I owe the world so much.

I'm comfortable where I am, but in order to be who I need to be to give back, I need to get out of my comfort zone, and it terrifies me. It's so much easier to make myself happy, but so much harder to make others happy.

How do you handle the fear when you need to take a huge leap of faith in your life? I haven't felt this lost in ages.

There's something that comforts me, and that is knowing that I've been here before. Before any revelation comes a period of being confused, struggling and having a total mental block. Whatever troubles my mind, I can get through it.

Something else that is of huge comfort to me right now is that I feel I'm heading in the right direction. The things I'm doing, the thoughts I'm having, the questions I'm asking are all propelling me forward. 

The past is a beautiful thing, but I tend to get so caught up in nostalgia sometimes that I forget to look into the future.

There's a bright, colorful, beautiful world in front of me. A glorious, wonderful, awe-striking life waiting.

I don't know how to enter yet, but the door is somewhere, and I can already feel the smile tugging at the corners of my lips in anticipation for the day I unlock it.

For now, I just have to keep living.

There will always be questions we can't answer, fears we feel we can't tackle. But we keep living, we do it anyway, we fight on for the sunny days.

Today I fill my mind with happy thoughts, so that tomorrow I can open up to the world and tell a happy story.

Every day is a new beginning. Make each "Once upon a time" count.

Five realizations to bring you all the joy in the world

Here are five realizations I've made this past summer that have taken my happiness to a whole new level:

1. The more I read, the more I write, and the more I do of both of those things, the happier I am. Last year I kind of forgot what a big part writing stories plays in my life's journey, but I now know that I can't be fully me if I'm not breathing words like a dragon breathes fire.

2. My purpose is so much more than this moment. Yes, living in the moment is very important. But what means more to me is remembering where I came from, where I'm going and who I truly am. I'm just a girl living on this planet called Earth. But am I really?

No. I'm a daughter of a divine, all-mighty, truthful, wonderful, gracious, kind and compassionate Heavenly Father. I'm a child of God, the King of all things on Earth and beyond.

I'm not here for no reason. I'm here to fulfil my duty, to be righteous and spread light and joy. I'm here to inspire, to create, to tell stories and make a change. I'm here to teach you that you also have a part in His grand plan, the plan of the best kind of happiness of all, happiness that never ends.

3. Paying attention to my health is so much more than what I eat, and has nothing and everything to do with how I look. Truth is, however, being healthy makes me pretty, because being healthy helps me be happy.

Also, it's not shallow or selfish to like yourself, and to do things in order to be prettier.

In fact, you won't survive without some self love. I've been my worst critic and bully for the longest time, but this summer I decided to just quit it. I have to spend a lot of time with myself anyway, so why not have a lot of fun instead of causing myself a lot of unnecessary pain?

I love my red hair, my green eyes, my strong arms and legs and everything my incredible body is capable of. I love the feeling of running as fast as I can with the wind in my face, ponytail brushing against my neck. I love the tingles I get in my toes when I jump into ice cold water. I love how my hair is an absolute mess in the mornings, and how my face looks pale and puffy when I brush my teeth and look tiredly in the mirror. I don't mind the little flaws, because that's what they are. Little. Insignificant.

What means a lot is that I can hear beautiful music, stare at pink sunset clouds and dance until dawn without feeling the slightest bit tired.

4. Smiling for no reason and having good posture is pretty much half of my happiness. As long as I can make myself fake a laugh, I can have a real laugh. Every little smile makes me a little more happy, and it really doesn't matter at all what I'm happy about.

5. And lastly, the most important lesson of all: Loving others is the greatest gift a human can receive.

All my life I've wished for someone to love me, and been mad with myself every time I've liked someone more than they've liked me. But being able to see how someone else is important, special and amazing is truly the most incredible feeling ever, and it doesn't have to be painful.

I've always lived in an illusion that I can't show people that I like them too much or they'll freak out, but honestly, if a person freaks out about a thing like that, it says a lot more about them than me.

So I will keep loving and liking everybody around me way more than they probably deserve. But in my eyes, they do deserve every bit of it.

The world has too little laughter and love, and if I can make at least one human feel appreciated every single day, then that's one grand reason to live for.

One day this summer I got asked: "How can you smile all the time? Why do you just look so happy, even without any reason?"

I shrugged, because I was kind of baffled. Only a year ago I felt stuck, anxious, fearful and lost. I was happy then, but not happy like this. These five realizations have opened my eyes to so much more joy than I could've ever imagined it was possible to feel back then.

Happiness is gradual. It takes time to get there, and I still have many lessons to learn and bumps along the road to bump into.

Some truths stick with us forever, and I hope you find the truths that bring you all the joy in the world.