Manuscript Review

Does My Story Suck?

This is a new service I am offering to writers interested in getting no-bullshit reviews of their manuscripts. Specifically, this is for novel-length projects. There are already many services out there which provide feedback for shorter works, I recommend LitReactor.com if you are interested in having your short story critiqued.

I had always found it difficult to get honest feedback from friends. They didn't want to be mean by telling me the truth about what they didn't like, or what made their reading experience less than ideal. Some writing groups are like this, only focusing on what they liked about Jenny's rambling faerie dragon story, or Bill's boring murder mystery, because they were afraid to be critical for fear of retaliatory criticism. Conversely, some writing groups have members that enjoy feeling superior by bashing any and all flaws they can find. It is difficult to find someone who can straddle this fence of honesty without brutality.

"(Chuck) came back with a no-holds-barred critique that was both brutally honest but supportive. I was energized by it. Flat out. He's done it for me ever since, and ever since I've had a damn good product." - Ryan Sayles, author of 'The Subtle Art of Brutality', and 'That Escalated Quickly'

The worst part of writing is working in a vacuum, not knowing where your skills stand. After spending so many months working on so many pages, it is impossible to be objective about your characters and how much you should and shouldn't say about them. Is your dialog believable? Is your plot solid? Is your world clearly enough defined? Did you give too much detail? Fresh, honest eyes are definitely required.

Once I started on my path of serious writing, it took some courage to accept what honest critiques I could get, but those which hurt the most helped hone my skills the most. LitReactor was key to helping me thicken my skin to criticism (it's about what serves the story, it's not about you as a person) but also taught me to be open to seeing my story through someone else's eyes, and respecting the few critics who could communicate the hiccups in their reading experience without being unnecessarily harsh or demeaning.

If you have a novel-length project which you don't know what to do with, or are stuck for ideas how to tighten it up, please keep reading.

Step 1:

Email me and introduce yourself, tell me about your writing experience so far, and give me an 'elevator pitch synopsis' of your project. Copy the first five pages of your manuscript into the body of your email. I will try to get back to you within 24 hours. Depending on schedules (we all have day jobs), I will schedule time to devote to your project and get back to you.

Step 2:

Send me the first twenty pages of your manuscript in PDF form. I will review these pages and give you feedback based on the strengths of your characters and plot and pacing, and will offer suggestions how to enrich the reader experience by adding sensory details or adding environmental cues, or other ways to develop your emerging plot.

For this step in the process, the investment is not much more than what you would pay for a solid how-to book on writing. $20. That's a dollar a page. If, at this point, after reviewing my comments, you have been given enough to inspire you to make changes, we can stop here. Or, if what I provide gives you incentive to continue, we can move on to the full manuscript review...

Step 3:

Provide me a list of any questions you may have and a PDF of your complete manuscript. What I will provide is a thorough and honest review of what shines in your story, and what may need to be revised in order to push your story to the next level. Be warned, I will not pull any punches. Your ego may get bruised, but I can guarantee that you will gain a new perspective on your storytelling skills, and will be provided with the means to reimagine characters and plot details which will tighten up those thin spots in your manuscript.

For a complete manuscript review, I charge a half a cent a word. So if your manuscript is 100,000 words (approximately 400 pages) your investment would be $500. Is the story you need to tell worth that investment?

Step 4:

I offer a 1-on-1 workshop how to add depth to your characters and integrate them more closely to the plot, using Jungian archetypes to create characters that are rich and complex, and conflicts that are believable and emotionally loaded. This is not about the craft of writing, but about the structure beneath your story and the characters your readers will want to get to know. The plot evolves out of those characters, and you will use the writing skills you already have to bring them to life.

We all understand how time- and attention-consuming the writing and reviewing process can be, and I respect that when you send me your manuscript, a lot of time and love has been devoted to that document. There are living beings in there trying to get out and talk to you. I will help you listen to them.

So, are you up for this? Let me know.

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