I’m a believer in beta readers, but not in using beta readers indiscriminately. By the time you send a manuscript to beta readers, you should have a good handle on the shape of the book. I don’t think you should ask them to give you feedback on how to change the plot or characters. You should give specific instructions. You want to know how readers might feel, reading your book. It should be up to you to figure out if you want to change things based on these responses. I don’t think beta readers are the best at offering at advice (not sure anyone is) on how to change your book.
Here are some questions you might ask your beta readers either before they start reading or afterward:
- Where were you bored?
- Where did you not believe the events happening?
- Where did you not believe this character would do that?
- Where did you cry?
- Where did you laugh?
- Where did you shout for joy?
- Who did you root for?
- Who did you hate?
- What did you wish hadn’t happened?
- Whose point of view did you want to hear?