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Not My District

I ran into a weird comment in a beta readers group I am in on facebook. The OP had asked when to stop editing for a writer and one commenter said, and I quote, " Usually, if you think of yourself as a more advanced writer then the guy you beta read for, then it is your moral obligation as a fellow writer, to suggest several ways how they could correct the issues you highlight. Otherwise, you become just a useless time waster ."

Nope. No. Never. Uh-uh. It is NOT my job to, OR MY MORAL OBLIGATION, to waste my time with someone who is nowhere near ready to have a beta reader. The OP detailed the interaction and how she gave feedback but the writer KEPT pressing her for "well, how do I fix this?" and sending her edits and consistently asking her to show how to fix a dozen tiny things.

If you beta read, it is NOT your job to do this. And while we are here, it is not your job to be condescending and tell someone "beta readers are line edits, not over all story readers." Maybe. But MOST people looking for betas want character development, looking for plot holes--big things like that. Take a chill pill, that's easier to do! They don't want you to be like "Well, here you have a split infinitive in your dialogue and that's not right..." No, get outa here with that crap. Writers tell you what they are looking for from a beta read. I gave a short 4 or 5 questionnaire out with Prince of Midwest to (several) beta readers and you know what I got back? One stream of consciousness rant in MSWord (totally useless, I'm not reading your 20K brain hiccups) and then a list of grammar edits...That is NOT what Ezekiel needed. I gave you just four questions!

Back to the original issue: you are not morally obligated to be a professional, on call editor for some online rando. People get paid money for that. Betas are free. If you think you are better than the people you read for (and it's ok to think that, you just might be!) then you are still not obligated to be their slave. Ugh! That just ground my gears. And I'm a teacher. I don't offer that to my students. Even writing center tutors don't. I see you know. Some of you are scoffing at me and saying "That's what's wrong with teachers these days." Hun, I teach college. If your kid doesn't know to use a comma or how to find out how to use one, that is not my problem.

Good luck our there, writers. Protect your time!

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