If someone asks me to be a beta-reviewer for a book and I had to write a feedback for it, how should I organize the text, what do I need to do to not offend the author and give constructive feedback and what writing style should I adopt (formal, informal)?

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    This is not a duplicate. The proposed duplicate is specifically about mentioning "good things" while beta reading while this question is about a "good feedback" as in "a useful feedback" in general, which includes positive and negative, phrasing and general things to watch out for when writing constructive feedback. They are similar, especially because of the word "good" being used here where "useful" seems to be more appropriate, but they are duplicates. I am voting to "Leave Open". – Secespitus Mar 13 '19 at 7:41
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    Maybe I'm too used to the harsher conditions of other StackExchange communities, but the question shows no signs of personal research, does not explain the problem the asker has, and therefore is very broad. In other communities this would be closed until the asker edits it and asks a more specific question while also showing they have put some thought into it. – PoorYorick Mar 13 '19 at 9:02
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    RepoMonster, can you give more information? Have you given feedback and it was unsatisfactory? Expand the Q to describe your experience. Are you about to for the first time? What have you already looked up, and what else do you need for US to answer specifically? I'm closing for too-broad (FOR NOW), but fully expect you can add some clarity and it will re-open! – April Salutes Monica C. Mar 13 '19 at 13:18

The answer would greatly depend on who you're beta-reading for, and what they ask you for. One writer might have specific questions they'd want you to answer. Another would just ask for your impression. One might want to hear your opinion (in person, or on the phone), another might want it written down. Some authors might ask you to focus on some specific thing that has to do with your area of expertise, whatever that is. Others are looking for more general feedback.

First and foremost, do what you're asked to do. If you're asked specific questions, answer them. If you're asked to focus on some particular element, make sure to address that.

For myself, if a beta reader can find nothing to improve in my draft, or only notices typos, that beta reader is useless to me. I'm not looking for praise, I don't need them to "spare my feelings". I need to know everything that's wrong with my work, so I can improve it. So I would say, everything that doesn't work for you - tell the writer about it. Say what doesn't work, and why it doesn't work. The why is particularly important. "I don't like this character" is less helpful if you can't say why you don't like them.

Whatever you're writing, whether positive or negative, be as specific as you can. "This is great work" tells me nothing. "This character's internal monologue resonated with me" is informative.

@MonicaCelio adds, and I agree with her, make note of examples. Note down the page number (or % point or whatever) where something particularly stands out -- dialogue that seems out of character, confusing description, etc. Either it'll end up being a one-off, or it'll be the first of several examples of a particular problem. Then you can point to specific things: either "this stands out", or "there appears to be this problem, here are some examples".

How you style the feedback also depends on what the writer wants to receive. If they gave you a set of questions, follow each one with an answer - there's your format right there. For myself, I find bullet points much easier to work with than a wall of text. But maybe someone else would like to have a paragraph of your impressions - whatever works for them.

How formal you need to be depends on who you're beta-reading for. If you're doing this for a friend, address them as normal. If it's someone you've never met before, you might want to be more polite.

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    This is how I approach beta-reading, too. One thing you might consider adding (assuming you agree): make note of examples! When I'm beta-reading I jot down the page number (or % point or whatever, depending on format) where something particularly stands out -- dialogue that seems out of character, confusing description, whatever. Either it'll end up being a one-off and I can either include it in a "misc small stuff" section or punt, or it'll be the first of several examples of that particular problem and I can point to a couple examples. (If it's the latter, I don't track all of them.) – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '19 at 2:29

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