W.O.L.F. Sector
Friday, Dec 15, 2017
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction
 

How BetaWolf Works

The following is an in-depth and detailed explanation of the various aspects of BetaWolf. If you have any questions about BetaWolf, check here first before e-mailing me.

The Mailing List

In essence, BetaWolf is a mailing list where I send announcements about new chapters or content to be reviewed. However, unlike most mailing lists, I don't send out a mass mailing to everyone on the list. The list is broken down first by story, then by where in the process you've said you want to work (First Draft, Final Draft, etc.). When a new chapter is making its way through BetaWolf, I only send out assignments to the BetaWolf list for that particular story, and only to those who have said they want to work at that particular point in the process.

Also, because the mailing list is not an actual mailing list but a list of individuals I send announcements to when appropriate, members of BetaWolf don't normally interact with each other (the exception is WOLFchat). Therefore, when you send your critique, it goes directly to me, not to the list. This also means no one on the list knows if or when anyone else on the list has responded or the contents of that response. This is deliberate on my part to protect the privacy of my BetaWolves and to stop people from not mentioning something because they saw someone else mention it.

The E-mail Announcement

The content of the e-mail announcement is fairly generic. Usually, it consists of the story name, chapter number, and draft version of the chapter to be reviewed, along with the text of the chapter and links to the BetaWolf Files page, where you can view the stripped-down Web page version or download the MS Word file if you don't want to use the text version included in the e-mail. A deadline will also be specified.

If you receive an announcement regarding a chapter, it means you're supposed to work on it.

Once I've received your critique, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail to let you know I got your critique. If I have any questions after reading the critique, I'll send a follow-up e-mail asking for clarification or help.

BetaWolf Terminology

I have three types of stories, which I refer to using the following terms:

  • Posted/Complete - the story is available to general members and complete (though it may be edited further, up until publication in paperback form)

  • Posted/Incomplete - the story is available to general members, but unfinished (new chapters will go through BetaWolf before being posted for general members to read and previously posted chapters may be edited further, up until publication in paperback form)

  • Unposted - the story is not available to general members, only to members of the story's BetaWolf group

I've also come up with shorthand codes for the various Draft stages of my stories/chapters as they go through BetaWolf. Since it's not always immediately clear what I mean by a particular code, you can check the list below for an explanation.

Normal BetaWolf Cycle

This is the sequence you'll see most often.

  • First Draft - has never been beta-read

  • Second Draft - has been through one previous round of beta-reading

  • Nth Draft - has been through Nth previous rounds of beta-reading

  • Final Draft (v.1) - has been through at least one previous round of beta-reading, but was not heavily revised after the most recent round

  • Final Draft (v.2) - has been through one previous round of beta-reading as a Final Draft

  • Final Draft (v.N) - has been through Nth previous rounds of beta-reading as a Final Draft

  • Posted Draft - has been posted as a "final" version available to general members (but may be edited later, up until publication in paperback form)

Posted/Revised BetaWolf Cycle

You'll only see this sequence if I decide to revise a chapter that was previously listed as a Posted Draft (meaning it's already gone through the Normal BetaWolf Cycle at least once).

  • Posted/Revised (v.1) - newly revised version of a previously Posted Draft; equivalent to First Draft

  • Posted/Revised (v.2) - equivalent to Second Draft

  • Posted/Revised (v.N) - equivalent to Nth Draft

  • Posted/Revised (Final.v.1) - has been through at least one previous round of beta-reading, but was not heavily revised after the most recent round; equivalent to Final Draft (v.1)

  • Posted/Revised (Final.v.2) - equivalent to Final Draft (v.2)

  • Posted/Revised (Final.v.N) - equivalent to Final Draft (v.N)

  • Posted Draft - equivalent to Posted Draft above (no distinction is made between old Posted Drafts and new Posted Drafts; if it's available for general members to read, it is simply the Posted Draft)

Unposted BetaWolf Cycle

This sequence is only for Unposted stories and uses the same codes as the previous two cycles with only one major difference, which is listed below.

  • Unposted Draft - equivalent to Posted Draft, but not available to general members (may be edited later before or after becoming a Posted Draft, up until publication in paperback form)

The BetaWolf Files Page

The BetaWolf Files page is only available if you're both logged in and have a BetaWolf membership for the particular story you're attempting to access. If you do, you'll see a blue BetaWolf Files button at the bottom of the story menu allowing you to access the BetaWolf Files page for that story from any page of the story.

BetaWolf Files Blue Button

The BetaWolf Files page itself is divided into two sections, Current Files and Old Files.

BetaWolf Files - Current and Old Files sections

Current Files

Current Files will only have something in it if I've sent something to be reviewed.

If you see a file listed, but haven't received an announcement about it, please ignore it. I'm fairly organized, so it's doubtful I forgot to tell you about it. It's much more likely that it simply isn't your turn yet, so just wait and you'll probably receive an e-mail from me soon. If you're at all unsure, e-mail me and I'll let you know.

Old Files

Old Files is where the Posted Drafts of individual chapters and the Master File (all finalized chapters in one large file) are listed. The Master File does not have a Web page counterpart because the individual chapters are either listed below or are in the public chapter menus.

Examples

The sequence works as follows...

...For Posted Stories

  • I post links in the Current Files section that go to the stripped-down Web page and MS Word file versions of the chapter I've sent to be beta-read (labeled First Draft).

  • I receive feedback, make changes, and if they're big enough, I post the Second Draft and remove the First. This means there is only ever one particular draft per chapter listed.

  • I receive feedback, make changes as above, or...

  • If everything's good, I post the chapter to the site.

  • I remove the chapter from the Current Files section (meaning that section will be empty).

  • I add the newly finished chapter to the Master File in the Old Files section.

After that, the only way to access that particular chapter in the future is to either read it on the site from the chapter menu or download the Master File.

...For Unposted Stories

  • I post links in the Current Files section that go to the stripped-down Web page and MS Word file versions of the chapter I've sent to be beta-read (labeled First Draft).

  • I receive feedback, make changes, and if they're big enough, I post the Second Draft and remove the First. This means there is only ever one particular draft per chapter listed.

  • I receive feedback, make changes as above, or...

  • If everything's good, I remove the chapter from the Current Files section (meaning that section will be empty) and add the stripped-down Web page version of it to the Old Files section and label it as Unposted.

  • I also add the chapter to the Master File.

After that, the only way to access that particular chapter in the future is to either read the stripped-down Web page version listed in the Old Files section or download the Master File.

Note:

  • If everything's not good and I get stuck, I will do mostly the same as above, but instead of labeling it Posted/Unposted, I'll label it whatever draft it was and add "(still editing)" to the description. (I'll only do this if it's taking me longer than say a couple months or I've gotten sidetracked and don't think I'll be coming back to it soon.) The chapter will also not be added to the Master File, since it won't have been finalized yet.

Other Files

There may be other files added to the BetaWolf Files page in the Current Files section such as outlines, timelines, research notes, character bios, etc. I will usually only post such files because I want my ideas/theories double-checked by someone who hasn't been staring at it for days and can be more objective. Such files will not normally be left on the BetaWolf Files page indefinitely, but only until I receive enough feedback to let me move on. If they do become permanent for whatever reason, they'll be moved to the Old Files section.

If you see such files, but haven't received an announcement about them, you're not required to review them. However, if you're interested in doing so, please e-mail me to find out exactly what it is I'm looking for, since that information probably won't be in the file itself.

The BetaWolf Cycle in Action

Here are some examples of the system in action.

Normal BetaWolf Cycle

Let's say I just finished a chapter for Story A. Since I've probably gone over it at least a couple dozen times, trying to make it the best, most perfect chapter I can, it's technically a final draft for me at this point. However, because it's never been beta-read before, when I send it to the BetaWolf group for Story A, I call it a First Draft.

Because it's a First Draft, I send it only to those who agreed to beta-read First Drafts.

I receive feedback on or before the specified deadline (or after, if an extension has been granted).

I make edits (if any) where I think appropriate based on the feedback I receive (this could take a while depending on how extensive the edits are and what else I may be working on).

If the edits are minor, such as just a few changed words or the correction of typos, the draft becomes a Final Draft (v.1) at this point and the Second and later Draft beta-readers won't have to work this time around.

However, if the edits include expanding or cutting scenes, or in any way majorly revising the "facts" of the story, the draft becomes a Second Draft and I send the revised chapter back to the group with a new deadline, but only to those who agreed to beta-read Second Drafts.

This process repeats, with the draft numbers increasing each time, until I either receive little to no suggestions for changes/improvement, or the edits I make are minor.

Once a draft becomes a Final Draft (v.1), the cycle continues the same as with the First through Nth Drafts, but this time only with those in the group who agreed to beta-read Final Drafts. However, because there is only one sub-group for Final Drafts, that same group will also receive Final Draft (v.2) if I make further edits based on their feedback for Final Draft (v.1), and so on.

Eventually, I either receive no further suggestions for changes/improvement, or the edits I make are minor (or I make no more edits).

With the draft as final as it can possibly be at that time, I post it to the site for general members to read. At that point, the draft becomes a Posted Draft and the normal BetaWolf cycle for that chapter ends for the time being.

Posted/Revised BetaWolf Cycle

Because it's possible for different beta-readers of the same story to be working on different chapters at the same time, plus I receive comments/feedback from regular readers at random intervals (I also re-read my stories quite often), it's possible that I'll receive comments for a previously Posted chapter that cause me to revise it. Since I don't want to set up a group specifically for Posted Drafts (I just don't have that many BetaWolves to spread around), such "previously posted/newly revised" chapters will simply enter the draft cycle all over again. However, in order to indicate their previous Posted Draft status, they get a new name. Instead of renaming a Posted Draft to First Draft, it becomes Posted/Revised (v.1).

The BetaWolf cycle then continues exactly as if the chapter were a First Draft. However, once it reaches the Posted Draft stage again, it doesn't become Posted Draft (v.2) or anything like that. It simply becomes a Posted Draft again.

Also, the only way a Posted Draft ends up back in the BetaWolf cycle is if the revisions are major. If I simply fix a typo or streamline a few grammatically strangled sentences, I will not restart the editing process (I don't need that much handholding :) ).

Unposted BetaWolf Cycle

As stated above, the BetaWolf Cycle for Unposted stories is basically identical to the cycles for Posted stories. The only difference is that the cycles don't end with a Posted Draft of the chapter, they end with an Unposted Draft. Only members of BetaWolf are able to access and re-read such Unposted Drafts (which are listed in the Old Files section of the BetaWolf Files page for the story).

Furthermore, once an entire Unposted story has been beta-read, I'll most likely send each chapter through BetaWolf again, and then start posting the polished "final" versions as they're finished at that time (I intend to do the same for all my Posted/Incomplete stories when they're finally finished). Since quite a long time will most likely have passed between the first time the chapters went through BetaWolf and when they go through again after the story is finished, it shouldn't feel too repetitive.

WOLFchat

I tend to be most comfortable with e-mail, but there are times when a real-time conversation is more useful. Since I'm far too socially phobic to deal with a phone call, online chat is an acceptable alternative for me.

I mostly use chat to discuss plot points, ideas for scenes (or my lack of ideas), and as a kind of brainstorming session to get me back on track and inspired to write the next bit I'm struggling with. It's a place where I can talk about ideas I have and get instant feedback about whether they're any good or not. This necessarily requires that the participants not be "spoiler-sensitive," so if you don't want to know anything except what's actually in the story, you shouldn't participate.

Only those who have agreed to work on Brainstorming and Outlining are likely to be invited to chat. And of course if the timing isn't good or you're not available, you won't get in trouble for not participating.

For more information about how WOLFchat works in general, please go to the WOLFchat section.