Before publication, there are two kinds of readers a writer needs.
There are the famous Beta Readers; those that read the full book, picking up on the final edits and polishes needed to create the final published version. Beta Readers are absolutely worth their weight in gold.
Alpha Readers, meanwhile, fulfil an altogether different role. These guys are truly special. They work with the story at the planning stage, often before a single word of it has been written, before it has been fully outlined.
My Alpha Reader is my husband. He helps me plot out stories on long car journeys, quiet Sunday afternoons, while I wash and he dries. Sometimes, on special occasions, we’ll plot stories in coffee shops, over coffee and cake.
He helps me rank up the conflict, and comes up with practical solutions to my plot holes, and when I plot my characters into corners.
My husband’s a gamer. I often refer to myself as an X-Box widow, and joke that I come second in his affections (at least, I hope it’s just a joke!)
But his gaming obsession has taught him skills that I can really make use of: how to think himself out of a tight spot, how to utilise the tools around him, how to use the setting. It’s taught him about rising tension, conflict, story structure, and climaxes. It’s taught him about quests, character growth, and story arcs.
He may not be a huge reader, but he’s the best Alpha Reader I could hope for.