Beta Reader Awesomeness by Guest Blogger Ronel Janse van Vuuren

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Hello! Though I’m on a blogging break and posting once a month on IWSG Day, doesn’t mean I’ll stop helping to spread the word for the writing community. Today, I’m coming out my break for guest blogger Ronel Janse van Vuren. And her novel “Dark Desires!”

Take it away Ronel!

“Better to take pleasure in a rose than to put its root under a microscope.” – Oscar Wilde, The Truth of Masks.

Some people swear by critique partners (CPs), others by their editor. Me, I love my beta readers. They are a group of authors and readers that read my stories when I believe that the story is as good as I can make it on my own.

Once they are done reading my stories, adding their thoughts – the good and the bad – I am able to figure out what needs work and what needs polishing before sending it off to an editor.

I suppose I could get CPs instead, but that is an arrangement best suited to the exchange of novels with someone within your genre, age-group, etc. It’s a long-term commitment. Call me commitment-phobic, but I prefer to work through a completed project from start to finish and return it to the author. Done.

Besides, my beta readers are awesome. They sometimes see things that I’ve completely missed, enriching the story. If I only relied on an editor, I would only get one person’s – albeit professional – opinion. And I’d pay more. As a budget-conscious author, this is something to keep in mind.

Beta readers do what they do for the love of stories. I usually send a questionnaire along to make it easier for them to know what to focus on. You can take the questions below and change to fit your story.

Questions to answer while reading “Dark Desires”:

  1. Mark anywhere you skim.
  2. Did you get confused on who a character was?
  3. Did you lose track of who was speaking?
  4. Note anytime you suspect a character of being the villain or know the ending.
  5. Mark each passage where you stopped reading. (Even if it is for dinner, go to work, etc.)
  6. Did you notice any story inconsistencies? (Like a name’s spelling changing, someone’s hair colour changing, etc.)
  7. Did this feel like a young adult romance?
  8. Was the fantasy-element clear enough?
  9. Did it stick to the “masquerade” theme?

This leads them to focus on what is truly important to you – and they’ll still add notes about everything else they noticed.

For example, in their notes for “Dark Desires”, they pointed out how much it was like “Twilight” – in a good way! – and how the main characters remind them of Kat and Patrick from “Ten Things I Hate About You,” reinforcing my confidence that this was a good young adult story. They also pointed out the places where I forgot to include the reader in what was happening in the story – I might know who is doing what, saying what, thinking what, but I’m not always sharing enough with the reader.

How do you reward such awesomeness? Well, I send them a copy of the published book (mobi or epub) and I also mention them in the acknowledgements at the back of the book. I’ve also named characters after them…

dark desires covers

Iron and fae aren’t friends. But Tasha has no choice but to be in the human realm: her very life is at stake.
High School isn’t much safer than Faerie, though. Clicks, falling in love and navigating day-to-day activities are dangerous enough without the added dread of being unmasked as being otherworldly.
But when something happens and everyone reveals their true selves, Tasha has a choice to make: will she save them from the curse upon them and reveal her true nature, or will she let them die and stay safe?

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Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.
Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join Ronel’s newsletter.

Connect with Ronel online
Amazon author page:
Ronel the Mythmaker, Website of Dark Fantasy Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren:


  1. I wouldn’t say preferring beta readers over critique partners makes you a commitment phobe. If anything, I’d say the opposite is true – your commitment is to your book and making it the best it possibility can be before sending off for external “judgement”.

    Good idea about giving beta readers a questionnaire to guide their attention.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent interview Ronel. I really like the focus of the questionnaire, esp. Where did you skim (so we can leave out the parts readers skip!) Definitely a great tool. I really enjoyed Dark Desires.

    Liked by 1 person

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