Manuscript critique

  • Master List of IndieCat Blog Posts

    Master list of IndieCat blog posts

    Master List of IndieCat Blog Posts

    In order to make it easier for new site visitors to explore the blog posts here, I have made a master list of IndieCat Blog Posts. I’m still drawing up this list so not all posts have yet been listed here.

    What is developmental editing?

    Developmental editing or manuscript critique? This post looks into the differences between two common developmental editing services.

    Wasting money on a copyedit or proofread? Please don’t hire copyeditors or proofreaders if you later intend to use a developmental editor. In this post I explain the correct order of editing.

    When is the best time for a developmental edit?

    When is your novel done? At what point is it appropriate to start looking for feedback?

    Should you dust off that old novel? Is it ever worth returning to an old abandoned or rejected manuscript? Or is it time to move on?

    Case studies in developmental editing

    This list looks at examples of developmental feedback which changed the outcome of a novel. There are also posts where I put on my developmental editor’s hat and explore narrative choices a writer made when writing their novel.

    How developmental editing feedback improved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. This post looks at editor Maxwell Perkins and the developmental editing advice he gave to Fitzgerald after reading an early draft of The Great Gatsby.

    How developmental editing feedback changed Interview With The Vampire. This post looks at the development of Anne Rice’s first published novel, including the developmental editing advice she received from her editor. This advice caused her to radically alter parts of her novel, turning it into a classic of the vampire and gothic genres.

    Narrative devices in Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life. This post digs into Chiang’s use of point of view, tense, and structure in his award-winning novella, Story of Your Life. He also wrote the novel in an interesting way, starting with the ending!

    How narrative devices support a novel’s theme. This post looks at the viewpoint, tense, and other choices Sebastien Japrisot made for his award-winning novel A Very Long Engagement.

    Narrative choices Diana Gabaldon made in her first Outlander novel, Cross Stitch. In this post I give a developmental editing perspective on the choices Gabaldon made in her popular novel.

    Novel outlines – 3 case studies. Here I look at how three of my clients used outlining to help them write their novels.

    When publishers drop the ball. Even if you get a mainstream publishing deal there is no guarantee that you will get all the developmental feedback you need. This post deals with an unnamed published novel which had multiple issues.

    Famous first lines… or how to start your novel. A dive into famous opening lines in fiction and what they accomplish. Also, just how much depends on the opening line?

    Developmental editing basics

    Character credibility and the domino effect. What is the most common problem I see in manuscripts?

    10 ways to improve your novel’s pacing. While your novel doesn’t have to gallop along at a fast pace, sometimes storytelling gets bogged down and momentum is lost. Too slow and a reader could just give up. Be vigilant of anything that pulls your pace down. This posts has some tips.

    The Story Spine – the simple 8-point storytelling structure. Used by Pixar Studios.

    When dialogue ruins your scenes. A dive into how dialogue can sometimes work against the best interests of a scene.

    Too much period language in a historical novel? How much is too much? And why is it an issue?

    Too much internal dialogue? What can go wrong?

    Here is a check list for authors wanting to do some developmental editing on their manuscripts before hiring an editor. It’s also useful for authors who can’t afford a developmental edit.

    Fear of exposure in first-person narratives.

    Location issues in your novel

    Researching your novel’s locations online.

    Avoid this location issue in your novel.

    Historical fiction

    Too much period language in a historical novel? How much is too much? And why is it an issue?

    Laurie McBain – exploring the career of bestselling author Laurie McBain. She was one of the ‘Avon Ladies’ who rebooted historical romance in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. A look at the narrative choices Gabaldon made in her first Outlander novel.

    Interview with author Dorothy M. Parker about her time travel historical novel, The Angel of Incompleteness. Among other topics, we discuss the issues related to writing about real historical people.

    Historical fiction as a time machine. A look at the appeal of historical fiction through the lens of old New York.

    A Place of Greater Safety. A review of Hilary Mantel’s French revolution novel.

    Indie publishing

    So indie authors aren’t real authors? This blog post was written after I read a very annoying and ignorant post from someone who completely underestimated the commitment and talent of indie authors.

    Memoir

    This post looks at memoir and the issues memoirists face when telling their stories.

    Interviews with indie authors

    An interview with Dorothy M. Parker, exploring the inspirations behind her time travel novel, The Angel of Incompleteness.

    Articles on authors

    This post is my deep dive into the life and work of Irish-American writer Maeve Brennan. The Irish author was the daughter of Irish republican parents who later moved their family to the US for work reasons. Maeve would remain there until her death. Glamorous in her youth, she worked for the New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar. She also wrote short stories and a novella, The Visitor.

    Joan Lindsay was 71 when her famous novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was published. Here I dive into her life and the background to the novel.

    Laurie McBain was one of the stars of the historical romance genre in the 1970s and 1980s. Here I look at her career and the mystery of why she disappeared after ten years of success. I also look at the writer who inspired her, Kathleen Woodiwiss.

    Beautiful Shadow is a great biography of author Patricia Highsmith. Highsmith wrote Strangers on A Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, and the lesbian romance novel, Carol. All three of these books were adapted for the screen. Here I review the biography and explore Highsmith’s life and career.

    Book reviews

    A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. A detailed review of the award-winning French Revolution novel.

    General tips

    How to order short stories in a collection.

    Productivity tips for authors

    My best productivity tips for authors.

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro technique.

    How to establish a writing routine.

    Social media blockers.

    Need Freedom from social media distractions?

    Is social media harming the writing community?

    Marketing

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media.

    How to use Facebook and Instagram ads.

    Promoting your books on social media.

    Have you figured out your author brand?

    Why your book cover design matters.

    Terrified of reading your work in public?

    You need author photos but you’re camera shy.

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website.

  • Writing Your Memoir

    Writing your memoir

    When writing your memoir, you’re not telling the story of your whole life. Instead, memoir focuses on a specific period or event in your life which you dig into, reflect on, often addressing the issue in ways that are closer to a novel than a chronologically written autobiography.

    This is why memoir is seen as a form of creative non-fiction.

    A memoir offers readers intimate glimpses into your life and experiences. It’s also a chance for them to see what lessons you’ve taken away from your experiences.

    But writing a memoir comes with a set of problems – from reliability of memory to many other issues including the right to privacy of those around you.

    Memoir versus autobiography

    Some people confuse memoir and autobiography because they are both usually a first-person account of the subject’s life. It’s true that there are similarities. However, there are also major differences between them.

    Autobiography is more concerned with a whole life and with facts, dates, etc, given greater importance. There can also be less focus on a central unifying theme. Other than the story of a life.

    A long life can produce more than one autobiography. This is especially true if the author writes the first book when they are still relatively young. Years or even decades down the line they can write a second book if they have a lot more to tell about their life. This often happens with celebrity autobiographies.

    Memoirs, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on a unifying theme or particular time or experience in the author’s life. They are much narrower in scope. One life can still produce several memoirs precisely because they are limited in scope. It depends on whether you have the material to cover more than one book.

    In Let Me Go: My Mother and the SS, author Helga Schneider visits the elderly mother she has been estranged from for decades. Her mother left home when Helga was still very young and went to work for the SS at a concentration camp. Helga hardly ever saw her mother from that point on. Her memoir circles between her visits with the old woman at a retirement home and what happened in the past. The book does not cover Helga’s entire life.

    But Helga returned to the trauma of her abandonment in a second memoir, The Bonfire of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany.

    Meanwhile, in Until The Final Hour, Traudl Junge does not write about her entire life. The book is about her experience working as one of Hitler’s secretaries and includes the final days with him in the bunker.

    In all three of these books, the scope is narrow. This allows for a deeper dive into the subject.

    13 points for memoir writers

    For obvious reasons, writing a memoir is a deeply personal form of expression. It can be intimidating, especially when it comes to revealing intimate details or events in the past. It can also be cathartic and therapeutic.

    But writing memoir also comes with particular challenges and dangers. Here are some common problems or topics you might face when writing a memoir:

    1. Telling the truth versus privacy

    Writing your memoir means revealing intimate details about your life, including your actions (positive or negative), and your thoughts and emotions.

    This can mean talking about things you’ve kept secret from those around you or shared with very few. Putting these things down on paper inevitably leads to emotional vulnerability.

    But in striving to tell your truth, you can also expose the intimate secrets and breach the privacy of others, including loved ones. There is a delicate balance here between authenticity and privacy.

    Some writers change details to protect the identities of those they are writing about. In that case, the exact truth is sacrificed for privacy, but there is still an emotional truth.

    However, if a writer is clearly making things up and it comes out later, readers will cease to trust them.

    2. Memories are subjective and unreliable

    In autobiography and biography, there is a greater emphasis on facts.

    This is particularly true of biography.

    In memoir, the author is using their own memory of events – which of course can be aided by diaries and letters from the period concerned.

    But no one has a completely objective take on their life.

    Memories can change over time. Things can get added or subtracted in your mind. You can start to misremember things like seasons, or even years.

    Memories – even diaries and correspondence – are not 100% reliable. It’s one person’s subjective take on what happened and may clash with others who were around at the time.

    Consequently, it’s not unusual to start doubting your own memory! Especially if you talk to others who don’t remember events or remember them very differently.

    3. Emotional vulnerability

    Writing a memoir is like putting your intimate diary out into the world for all to read.

    Of course, you can edit some things out. But in exploring your most intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you’re often revisiting painful or traumatic events.

    And this can be triggering and lead to shame, fear, embarrassment, or discomfort. There is also the sense that once you let the cat out of the bag, you can’t stuff it back inside. When your truth is out there in the public domain, it’s out for good. Or for at least as long as the book remains in print.

    This realisation can lead to writer’s block and other avoidance strategies when it comes to writing things down.

    4. Structure, story, dialogue, and scene versus summary

    Even though you’re not writing a novel, you are still writing a narrative. And there are many overlaps between fiction and memoir.

    For one thing, you need a coherent narrative arc in memoir writing.

    While you can circle around in time, it must make sense. And the reader must be able to follow you.

    Memoir writers must also decide which events to include, how to order them chronologically or thematically, and how to keep readers engaged from beginning to end.

    As I’ve said, there are similarities between fiction and memoir. In both, you should have a proper story structure, fleshed out characters, sensory details, and a strong theme.

    You are also more likely to have dialogue in a memoir, compared to an autobiography. Of course, this can mean having to recreate a distant conversation as best you can. No one remembers exactly what was said decades ago, unless they carefully recorded it in a diary.

    Another technique borrowed from fiction is scene versus summary. There will be times when you don’t need to write out an event as a whole scene. You can just summarise it. You can also weave in your reflections about it in the summary.

    But including summary, action, dialogue, etc, will bring the more important parts of your narrative to life.

    This results in a far stronger and emotionally gripping story.

    5. The importance of musing

    In addition to scene versus summary and dialogue, you also have something that is particularly important to memoir. And that is musing or reflecting on past events.

    The reader wants to know what you have learned. And if you’re writing a memoir, going over the past, trying to understand it better, it will be imperative to have some level of musing.

    Otherwise, you are simply recreating your own version of the past, without learning from it or offering up conclusions. And that means you’re leaving out a crucial ingredient of memoir.

    Musing can be done in various ways. You might reflect on some events within the period itself, but much of it will be done from a distance of years or even decades, as you look back from the present.

    Musing can occur in fiction, but it is even more important in memoir.

    6. Finding the universal in the personal

    While memoirs are always inherently personal, the best ones resonate with readers on a universal level. Yes, even when the experiences described are far removed from the reader’s own life. This is because, as a memoirist, you can still connect your experiences to broader themes and emotions your readers can relate to.

    In Let Me Go: My Mother and the SS, Helga Schneider’s narrative deals with a less common problem – a Nazi mother who served in a death camp. But in spite of Helga’s personal distaste for her mother’s actions, there is also some compassion for the forgetful old woman who sits before her.

    In that example, many readers can have the same experience of being estranged from family, yet find themselves having to deal with them in their later years. The reader will also wonder what they would do in Helga’s position.

    Would they refuse to visit the elderly Nazi war criminal who abandoned them when they were young, or try to do the decent thing as Helga does?

    Helga’s narrative, complete with the research she has done on Nazi atrocities, offers the reader food for thought. What would any of us do in her position?

    In Traudl Junge’s case, her experience working with Hitler raises issues about our complicity with wrongdoing around us. At what point are we accountable? Can we really blame youth and ignorance? Ultimately, Junge realised she could not.

    7. Perspective, voice and tone

    Determining the perspective of the memoir can be challenging. Writers must decide whether to narrate from their current time/perspective, which can lead to a greater degree of self-reflection, or go back in time to capture the voice of their past self.

    It’s a case of striking a balance between authenticity and readability.

    First-person narration though is the norm. Problems like head-hopping are far less likely to occur, compared to fiction.

    When it comes to tone, we’re really talking about writing in a humorous way versus anger, etc. Some memoirists deal with difficult topics from a position of humour. Sometimes that’s the best way they have to approach an otherwise painful subject.

    It’s worth thinking about the kind of tone you want to aim for in your memoir. Of course, it can vary somewhat as you circle between different scenes, but an overarching consistency of tone will bolster your narrative and theme.

    8. A sense of time and place

    I’ve already mentioned the importance of sensory details. This also applies to fiction writing.

    Here’s another thing important to both memoir and fiction writing – a strong sense of place and time. When you’re writing many years or decades after the events of your book, it’s important to try and recapture that place and time for your readers. You can include sensory details and also cultural references – music, film, fashions.

    With memoir, you can transport not only yourself back to that distant time, but your readers.

    9. Legal and ethical concerns

    Writing about real people and events can raise legal and ethical concerns, particularly when it involves portraying others in a negative light, making allegations, or revealing sensitive information.

    Writing about the living is a tricky subject!

    Memoirists should be mindful of potential repercussions and consider obtaining consent, legal advice, and changing any identifying details including names and appearance where necessary.

    10. Revising and polishing your manuscript

    Like fiction and other forms of non-fiction, your manuscript will require careful revision and editing to polish it to a publishable standard.

    But while it can be difficult with novels to ‘murder your darlings’ and cut out cherished characters or scenes, it can be even more difficult with memoir. Writers can feel that removing an important event distorts the truth.

    They might also find editing and rewriting painful events over and over again emotionally triggering. In this case, it’s best to take breaks and give yourself some time and space from your manuscript.

    11. Fear of judgement, criticism and rejection

    Memoir is the most personal of writing genres. Matched only by diaries or published letters. But people don’t usually plan to publish their diaries or letters, least of all when they’re writing them. Whereas memoirs are usually written with the intention to publish or be shown to others.

    Putting deeply personal truths out into the world can feel intimidating. All writers feel fear when their books are about to be published. Bad reviews and bad sales are common fears. But with memoir there is the potential for deeper and more personal criticism and judgement.

    And not just from readers or reviewers – but from loved ones and family. The people whose opinions often matter most.

    Fear of rejection can lead to self-censorship and suddenly deciding to remove parts of a book. Often to the detriment of the memoir.

    Yet, some memoirists have undoubtedly alienated family and partners/ex-partners with their published books.

    12. Will you find closure?

    For many memoirists, writing their account helps them make sense of their past and find closure. However, please be mindful that this is not always possible.

    If you are writing to help others in the same situation, that can offer a kind of closure in itself.

    But it’s worth remembering that with publication comes criticism and reviewing, and the reactions of those you’ve written about.

    This does not mean you shouldn’t proceed. It’s simply a matter of being realistic about the outcome.

    13. Leaving behind something for your family

    Sometimes writers are telling their story to share with family. This could mean private publication rather than a book put into general circulation. But it’s also about leaving behind a legacy after you’re gone. Something for loved ones to read and remember you by. Even descendants who are not yet born.

    Some memoirs are deeply rooted in a particular geographical location and will contribute to the larger tapestry of local history.

    Memoirs can tell us about the lives of women and other groups in the past, opening a door on experiences that are often forgotten today. Even though the memoir is not concerned with facts in the way an academic book is, that doesn’t mean it has no relevance to social history.

    Because history is more than facts. History is about people.

    Developmentally editing memoir

    I’ve edited a few personal stories. Some were very personal accounts of difficult childhoods where the author wanted to get their personal story out into the world. Often with the intention of helping others.

    One author I worked with used her childhood diaries to craft a narrative that read more like a novel. And it was one of the most memorable manuscripts I’ve worked on. I can still well remember scenes from the life of this young girl back in the 1960s as she walked around San Francisco and the likes of the Tenderloin district. The people she mixed with often lived on the margins and I found myself wondering what happened to them. Though some are dead now, they still live on in her manuscript and in my head. I will always associate Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By with her story.

    There is something really magical about vividly recreating the past, the emotions of that period, incorporating the fleeting nature of time and youth.

    It also gives those who never lived in that place or period a brief chance to walk in the author’s shoes and see through their eyes.

    Need feedback on your memoir?

    If you need developmental feedback on your memoir, you can contact me about your manuscript. I offer opening chapters developmental edits, full developmental edits, and manuscript critiques. Feel free to use the contact form on the page link below.

  • Why choose an opening chapters edit?

    Why choose an opening chapters developmental edit?
    Why choose an opening chapters developmental edit?

    As a developmental editor I offer a number of editing options to potential clients. The most obvious two are a manuscript critique and a developmental edit.

    Manuscript critique

    In the case of the first, you get a lengthy report focusing on not just the main issues in your manuscript, you also get some lower level feedback. And I’ll also tell you what you’re getting right! This option comes with a reading list that’s specially targeted for your needs. I recently offered a lower priced version of this option which requires only three reads. My preference is four.

    Two reads for me is what I would call a Beta Critique. It’s beyond a beta read, but not as extensive as a manuscript critique.

    Manuscript critiques don’t include margin comments, unless you opt to purchase an add-on service. For example:

    • You want margin comments for the first 5000 words of your manuscript on top of the report.

    Other word count options are available.

    Developmental edit

    With developmental editing you get a report and margin comments throughout the manuscript. This is a much more detailed type of editing and takes longer. It also gives you more feedback.

    Opening chapters developmental edit

    On top of these services, I offer an opening chapters developmental edit. The usual length here is the first 10,000 words or 15,000 words (it can vary). This is a great opportunity to test out developmental editing without having to commit to full developmental editing costs.

    You can also learn a lot from an opening chapters edit:

    • Does your story open in the best place?
    • Do you have a good opening hook?
    • Are you dropping in too much backstory?
    • Is your main character well established in the opening chapters?
    • Do your opening chapters and style of writing conform to the genre you’re aiming for?
    • Are you adopting the right tone?
    • Are you using too much internal dialogue?
    • Is your dialogue properly formatted?
    • Is your opening well paced?
    • Are you using the best POV for your story?
    • Do you have head hopping issues in your story?

    In addition to these and other issues, if you include the synopsis, I can check to see if the opening of your novel is fulfilled by the ending. With the synopsis I can also address character arc, theme, etc.

    With the opening chapters developmental edit, you get a report consisting of a few thousand words, plus margin comments and a reading list.

    NEW: Opening chapters manuscript critique

    However, I’m now offering an alternative to the opening chapters edit – one that mimics a manuscript critique, where you only get the report, no margin comments. Because this takes less time, the price will be lower.

    It could be that you’re at a point where you need lighter feedback on your beginning. Or maybe you’re on a lower budget.

    If you do choose an opening chapters edit, you are entitled to a discount on a full edit later.

    Feel free to contact me about opening chapters edits and reports. We can discuss your project and what you’re looking for. I will do my best to meet your needs. My email is karen@indiecateditorial.com.

  • What will you get when you hire me to edit your book?

    What you will get when you hire me as your editor

    What will you get when you hire me to edit your book? This is a reasonable question since I could be a complete scam artist about to run off with your money.

    I know you don’t particularly care about my training, other than to hope I’ve had some. Yes, there are people out there who think reading a book on developmental editing and downloading a template off the internet is all it takes to start a business.

    I once had a client tell me she got more feedback from me for her 20,000-word novella than she did for a full-length developmental edit where she paid over £1000. Not to me, obviously. To another editor who may not have specialised in developmental work.

    The skill set for developmental editing is very different from a proofreader’s skill set, or what you need to be a good copyeditor. Indeed, you can be a good technical copyeditor, but not a great line editor when it comes to fiction – especially fiction where you literally have no idea what the author is trying to do because you. don’t. get. literary. writing.

    It’s like getting an actor to read a poem. Sometimes they do a good job – think Vincent Price reciting Annabel Lee. Totally blows my socks off every time. But there are some lords and dames of the theatre who absolutely murder poetry by reading it like a speech, completely ignoring metre. It’s like a tone-deaf person murdering a song.

    But, I digress… I’m supposed to be telling you what you will get if you hire me.

    I’ve been rather remiss when it comes to posting client feedback on this website. This is because my clients were all coming from another platform and I didn’t bother to promote my site the way I should. But it’s the end of 2020. I need to sort myself out, give myself a good slap, and remember that I will living on the streets if I don’t start charging what I’m worth.

    A crash course in writing

    Today was a great reminder. A client whose manuscript has been through two rounds of full developmental editing sent me her new chapters one and two. I was seriously impressed. She took my reading recommendations, ploughed through the list, read the novel I recommended because I thought it was perfect for her to learn certain techniques, and she has improved her writing in a very short period of time.

    She’s a newish writer, so she doesn’t have years of writing behind her to learn all this stuff. Is she there yet? No, but her learning curve has been amazing.

    And that’s one of the most satisfying things about developmental editing and returning clients. If someone comes for a single round of editing, there’s not the same opportunity to see how they get on with it. You might even start to worry if they did get on with it. I personally prefer to see a second round of the manuscript at the very least.

    But that leads me to what you’ll get with me beyond a potentially steep learning curve, if you’re a beginner. However, that learning curve is one of my USPs.

    Know what a USP is? It’s your unique selling point.

    If you ever mean to go into business, and that includes becoming an author-entrepreneur, you should give a great deal of thought to your USP. Because it’s what marks you out from the competition. It doesn’t necessarily make you better than the competition, because they have their USPs too. And their client base could be very different.

    The basic built-in services

    So, beyond the learning curve, what do you get? In some respects, it comes down to what is right for you, the individual author. And what is most appropriate for your manuscript. But there are the non-negotiables. For a full developmental edit, you get an editorial letter that is several pages long, plus a copy of your manuscript with track commenting. You also get a reading list.

    I can do more than this. I can draw up a book map, which is time-consuming and therefore more of an extra.

    Although my prices are going up, they will still be lower than industry-standard for quite some time to come. This means I don’t put in extras that add a lot of time (because time is also money). You can get the extras on top. That includes a second round of editing. You can also get feedback between edits – for when you’re stuck and you need me to check something. A small amount of this is built into the price already. But a lot more and I’d have to charge.

    But, again, I wouldn’t be charging industry standard rates. Not for a while. I’m keen to give lower-income writers an opportunity to get a foot on the rung.

    All of this, so far, has been about developmental editing. I can do this type of editing on different levels – starting with the most basic issues in the first round of editing, and moving on to more pernickety stuff later.

    This can be easier for a writer to deal with because it paces the rewrites better. Reworking a draft is no longer such a monumental task. And they’re getting guidance along the way.

    Of course, some writers want something much more detailed to start with because they don’t intend to come back for a second round.

    Manuscript critiques

    So, what about manuscript critiques? These are cheaper than developmental edits, so I ought to have done far more of them, right? Wrong. I’ve done far more developmental edits because my prices were low and many of those edits were my opening chapters edit. The word counts were around the 10,000 word mark, unless a client asked me to look at something longer.

    Many of those clients would then come back to me for a full developmental edit. They liked the track commenting in the margins and found it helpful.

    However, as my prices go up, a full developmental edit will be more expensive. So, where does that leave the manuscript critiques?

    Well, cheaper, obviously.

    The full weight of the feedback is in the editorial letter since there’s no track commenting.

    These editorial letters can therefore be longer because they have to deal with everything. They are structured by subject, starting with the bigger issues and moving down the hierarchy of things-that-need-to-be-dealt-with.

    There’s also a reading list. You get this regardless of whether it’s a developmental edit or a manuscript critique.

    Specially tailored manuscript critique

    You can also ask for a manuscript critique with a sample developmental edit of the opening chapters. This means those chapters will have track commenting.

    You could ask me to look at the beginning and the ending this way.

    But it’s important to remember that one of the reasons a developmental edit is more expensive is the sheer amount of time it takes to go through a manuscript and leave comments. It’s at least two passes of comments or even three or four in one edit. I never read a manuscript once, I read it several times.

    My opening chapters edit is a developmental edit, but you could ask for the manuscript critique version instead, which means no margin comments. It takes me less time, and that means you save money. You miss out on the comments though.

    The main thing to stress is that what I can do for you really depends on a number of things. These include the amount of knowledge you already have, the number of drafts you’ve already written, and whether you intend to send your novel to an agent or publish it yourself. In the case of the former, if you can get a cheaper developmental edit (from someone who knows what they’re doing), then that’s all well and good. But you don’t need a full DE if you’re submitting. If a publisher accepts your book, that kind of editing will be provided without you being out of pocket.

    Some writers do still choose a developmental edit even if they’re submitting to an agent. There are reasons… like, they think it’s the best way to rise above the other manuscripts in the pile. It’s true that the competition is huge.

    Another editorial service I offer is a beta read with some additional developmental comments. However, this is nowhere near the input of a manuscript critique. It can work as the last read, checking that everything on the developmental level is now fixed or close to being fixed.

    So, that is an outline of what I deliver. However, every client and manuscript is different. Custom orders are always welcome.

    If you want to know more, feel free to drop me a message through my contact form. We can discuss your needs and also assess whether you’re really ready for a manuscript critique or a developmental edit. I will turn down work if I think I’m not right for the client or that the client is wasting their money.

    In the meantime, you can check out my services page. Here’s a detailed post about the differences between a manuscript critique and a developmental edit.