Beta Inflation

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Seema wrote Behind every good writer is an absolutely awesome and patient beta reader. Now this is so clearly untrue that it won’t take long to debunk. Behind some writers there are five or ten unexceptional and impatient betas. Other writers have no betas at all.

“Beta reader” is a strange term for an editor. Like all weird fandom terms, it covers a huge range of activities and attitudes. I suspect its origin is “beta tester,” that is, someone who tries out the beta version of new software and (ideally) reports any glaring bugs. That’s what I want out of a beta reader - I’m not looking for awesomeness or patience or heavy participation in the writing (programming) process.

I’m not against editing, but I think being a good writer means, among other things, being a good editor. A second pair of eyes is always handy but shouldn’t be an excuse for the first pair’s laziness, especially among people who for whatever reason are trying to improve their own writing skills.

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