30 Engaging Questions for Getting Insightful Feedback from Your Novel's Beta Readers

04/06/2024

Feedback from beta readers is crucial for refining your novel before publication. Use these 30 questions to gather insightful feedback on characters, plot, pacing, and themes to improve your story.

Feedback from beta readers is not just helpful; it's invaluable. It's a crucial step in refining your novel and making it the best it can be before you send it to a literary agent, editor, or pre-publication (traditional, self, or hybrid publishing). As a writer, seeking out diverse perspectives and opinions is not just important; ensuring that your story resonates with a broad audience is essential. Campfire Lit founder and novelist Elizabeth Keenan recommends asking early readers who are a mix of writers and readers and doesn't suggest asking close family members or partners in the first round. 'The closer a person is to the writer relationally or proximally, can make the feedback process thornier. I always take feedback from my husband or family members more to heart, and if I know they are reading something of mine, I walk on eggshells until they've finished. I find it safer for them (and me) to limit my early readers to writer friends and voracious readers who I know will give me their honest but gentle feedback.' But how do you ask the right questions to elicit the most insightful feedback from your beta readers? Below, we have compiled a list of 30 engaging questions you can ask your beta readers to help you gather feedback that will help significantly improve your novel.

1. What were your overall impressions of the story?

2. Were there any parts of the novel where you lost interest or needed clarification?

3. Which character did you connect with the most and why?

4. Were there any characters that needed developing?

5. Did the novel's setting feel realistic and immersive to you?

6. Which scenes or chapters were the most memorable to you and why?

7. Did the novel's pacing feel appropriate, or were there parts that felt rushed or dragged?

8. Did the resolution of the story feel satisfying to you?

9. Did the themes of the novel resonate with you on a personal level?

10. Did you notice any plot holes or inconsistencies while reading?

11. How did you feel about the dialogue in the novel? Did it feel natural and authentic?

12. Were there any moments in the novel that made you emotional? If so, which ones?

13. Did the ending of the novel surprise you, or did you see it coming?

14. Did the novel have a clear and compelling central conflict?

15. Were there any moments in the novel that felt predictable to you?

16. How did you feel about the author's writing style? Did it pull you into the story, or did it feel flat?

17. Were any scenes or chapters you felt could be cut from the novel without losing anything important?

18. Were there any scenes you felt were missing from the novel or would have liked to see more of?

19. How did you feel about the overall structure of the novel? Did it flow smoothly from beginning to end?

20. Did the novel leave you with any lingering questions or thoughts after reading it?

21. Did you find anything about the novel unrealistic or hard to believe?

22. How did the author handle the passage of time in the novel? Did it feel jarring or inconsistent?

23. Did the novel make you think about any critical issues or themes in a new way?

24. Were there any parts of the novel that you needed clarification on or complicated help with?

25. How did you feel about the central conflict in the novel resolution?

26. Did you find the protagonist relatable and likable, or did you struggle to connect with them?

27. Were there any subplots in the novel that you found distracting or unnecessary?

28. How did you feel about the ending of the novel? Did it feel earned and satisfying?

29. Were there any themes or motifs in the novel that you found particularly compelling or resonant?

30. What would it be if you could change one thing about the novel?

By asking these questions to your beta readers, you can gather a wealth of feedback that will not just help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your novel but also provide a valuable learning opportunity. Remember to approach the opinions you receive with an open mind and use it as an opportunity to not just learn but to grow as a writer. Be sure to give your generous readers plenty of time to read your work, and let them know your desired timeline so you aren't bugging them by checking in. 4-6 weeks is standard. If you'd like responses sooner, you should confirm that it is possible on their end. Once you receive their impressions, If you struggle to incorporate the feedback into your novel, consider seeking the help of a writing coach or editor. Campfire Lit is a writing and editing brand that offers services such as memoir editing and novel editing to help you polish your manuscript to perfection. With the guidance of a professional editor, you can take your novel from good to great and increase your chances of success in the competitive world of publishing.