Alpha Reader Time

I’m trying to work a new way on my current novel-in-progress. This method includes outlining segments and focusing on the plot development in a systematic fashion. Being conscious of my process seems to be working! It’s also shaking my foundation. This is good. But it does make me wonder so…. I’ve decided that it’s time for an alpha reader for the first draft of an unfinished manuscript. What will this set of fresh eyes offer me when I turn over the first 138 pages? A whole lot—I hope!

He is starting with a blank slate (I didn’t even tell him the working title before I sent the document). When he’s done reading, I will give him a series of specific questions to answer. No, I’m not going to quiz him on his reading comprehension. That would be fun but…. No, this questionnaire will include queries about the characters, the settings and where he believes I’m leading the characters.


I thinking about asking him:

Do you like the protagonist?

Do the details about her interest in art give the reader insights into her character and are accessible? Or are they too obscure and distract from her storyline?

Which of the other characters is suspicious?

(It’s a mystery so suspicious characters are required.)

Do you have an idea about who is behind the mystery?

Do you think you know what happens next?


One reader is not a focus group, but he’s a good reader and I think I might find out if the pacing is working, if my characters are ringing true and if the text inspires him to speculate about where the story is going. My fingers would be crossed about this, but they are busy on the keyboard.

Anyone else try an alpha reader?


  1. Yup, me too and his comments kickstarted the questions I asked one of my betas [another male gentleman]. Very helpful, but also highlighted some areas that would need a fair bit of change. But those kind of comments are what we need even if we don’t ‘want’ them. 😀

    Good luck!

    • Candy Korman

      That’s why I’m excited AND terrified!
      Who knows what this reader will bring to light? It’s a mystery about a mystery!

  2. I’ve given messy drafts of short pieces over to so-called alpha readers, but not portions of my novel. Given how I got so stumped with the whole novel process, I think getting feedback early on and often would be a great choice for me when I get my head back in the long-form game 😉

    • Candy Korman

      I’ll let you know how it works out for me. It may be very helpful! I’m especially interested in hearing what he thinks will happen next and if the character’s relationships—with her family, boyfriend, boss etc. ring true.