When authors review their own work, or have friends, writing partners and collaboration editors involved, it's almost impossible to have the distance needed for an honest critique.
Is it time to stop editing? Should I strengthen one story arc, increase the emotional connection the reader, or dive deeper into a certain setting? Is the sense of WONDER as strong as I think it is?
Have you heard beta readers say, "It needs more work," and you don't know how to move forward? Our reviews provide concrete suggestions, such as this one used recently:
"Your character begins his quest to end the godking on page five, but we readers haven't made an emotional connection with him yet. You've done a wonderful job of making me believe the godking must go - he's truly despicable - but at this point, I'm not rooting for your hero to be the one to do it. It can be anyone, as long as he goes.
I suggest you go back to the paragraph marked on page three where you have a flashback and use that to create a stronger emotional connection with the reader. This is where you want them to feel his pain so they are rooting for him later. Show us more than "he was hurt and angry" by pulling us into the scene where the godking humiliated him and his family. We need more than a reference. Bring the reader right into that moment with details of how he felt. Set the scene stronger by using the senses of hearing, smell and touch which you do so well in the later scene at the river's bend. (It's captivating and I feel the heat and humidity mingling with his fear.)
An example for the flashback segment is where you wrote "..he stepped forward." This is an excellent opportunity to tell us what he stepped upon - stone or gravel or hardpacked clay - to help draw us into the scene. Was his foot leadened with fear, or did he walk assuredly? If you strengthen this moment, the reader will have a reason to want your hero to be the one to destroy the heinous being you've created. (And again, I love the inherited aspect of that power. Great idea and an unexpected twist!)
And if you make the decision to enroll in a one-on-one writing coach program, every single penny of your manuscript review fee will be applied toward those powerful sessions.
Your review begins with a brief summation of the goals of your book from the POV (point of view) of a new reader. This is often a clear indicator if the goals you have set out for this book have been achieved.
These are vital to your marketing goals, whether you pursue a traditional or Indie publishing path. Small tweaks can often make a huge difference.
A good novel has one, powerful story arc plus several additional ones that are all woven together, seamlessly. An evaluation of these threads helps a weak novel become strong, and a strong novel become outstanding. It is hard for an author to remain objective at this point and to know if your intentions come across to the reader.
Manuscript reviews often mention that a story needs a good "polish" or proofreading, but then provide no clear understanding of exactly how the novel fell short in this absolute necessity. If this is suggested for your novel, you'll receive a short list of quotes from your manuscript (with page numbers) of some of the misses, and how a correctly edited version should look. Then, if you decide to work with a professional proofreader or tackle this task yourself, you'll save time by knowing exactly where you fell short.
Too many first-time memoirists leave out the best tool for "showing not telling" in any author's toolbox: Dialogue.
For fiction and nonfiction alike, when a story drags, it's usually because the exposition has gone on too long. If your novel has areas where dialogue would improve the pace, I'll point those out. PLUS, you'll receive an edited version of a few passages to show you exactly how that would look.
Sometimes authors have a really great story rejected only because it fell a little short: a solid, unique and interesting tale to tell that just doesn't pop.
But this does not necessarily mean you should start over or write a new book.
Often, strong developmental editing can flesh out the weak points in the overall story plot lines. Or, a simpler copy edit will make it flow.
If either of these is needed, I will show you exactly what that means and how it can save your unique and interesting story. Examples from your manuscript will be used (along with page numbers) with suggestions for revisions. (Please keep in mind, this is to help you rework your piece and is not a replacement for a full edit.)