Manuscript Critiques
By Amy Groening

You’ve written your manuscript, you’ve gone over it again and again, and it’s as good as you think it could possibly be. But every time you enter it into a contest, they choose someone else. When you ask your friends what they think of your book, you get the feeling they’re not being entirely honest. You’ve worked so hard on this manuscript but you’re just not sure if it’s ready to publish.

These are all instances where a manuscript critique can be incredibly valuable. Your manuscript may have fantastic potential, but need a lot of work in order to live up to your publishing goals. In a manuscript critique, your editor will help you delve into that sea of possibilities. Does the opening provide a hook to lure the reader in? Does anything jar the reader out of the story? Is there poor usage of words? Does the story unfold smoothly? Do the characters speak in a believable way? Does the story grip the reader? The editor will assess these and many other aspects of a story and highlight areas that could use improvement.

You might have skillfully crafted, flesh-and-bone characters, but they’re falling flat on their faces in a storyline riddled with plot holes. Maybe you’ve got the perfect premise, but your readers are getting lost in poorly set-up scenes; maybe you’ve hit upon a dynamic theme that is too subtle and could be drawn out more. After a manuscript critique, you’ll have a clear picture of your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses, and an idea of where to take it next.

Isn’t that what an editor does? Yes and no. Earlier this month, editor Evan Braun expounded upon the value of editing he’s absolutely right; no matter how well-crafted your story is, you’ll need an editor to make sure you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s. But when you get to that stage of professional editing on a manuscript, there is a general expectation that the manuscript is ready to be published, with just a few minor tweaks here and there—maybe a section or two requires rewriting; maybe there are a few dialogue tags out of place, but overall, your book is ready to hit the shelves. If there’s an overarching problem—if the main character is wooden; if the story just doesn’t grip the reader; if it’s poorly set up—it’s tough to solve the problem at that stage in the process; the editor will offer the best Band-Aid solutions they can, but what your book really needs is an intensive operation.

A manuscript critique is the beginning of an in-depth revision process that begins long before your book hits the shelves. You might be rewriting chapters, creating new plot twists, taking your storyline and turning it inside out, adding in a new character, tightening up an overarching theme that makes your book’s message shine—this deluxe makeover might be exactly what your manuscript needs to make it stand out. It can be a lot of work, but the result is a neat, clean manuscript that is several steps closer to being publishing-ready.

After you’ve completed a manuscript critique, another round of editing is, of course, in order. Now is when an editor will help you polish up that manuscript to get it into pristine condition, ready for the market.

The publishing process is a huge investment. It takes months of work and thousands of dollars to publish a book. That’s why we encourage authors to get a manuscript critique done first. When you’re putting that much time and money into a book, it’s important that it be the absolute best book it can be, and a manuscript critique is just one step in that process.

Intrigued? We offer sample edits free of charge. Why not drop us a line, send us your manuscript, and let us show you how a professional editor can help make your publishing dreams come true!

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cats committing random acts of feline crime.

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