Manuscript critique


manuscript critique graphicThere're an old joke. A guy goes to the doctor and says, "So what's wrong with me?" The doctor says, "You've broken your arm." The guy says, "I'd like a second opinion." The doc says, "Okay, you've broken your leg."

Boom, boom.

What's the point of this recycled humour?

That's simple. A second opinion is not necessarily more valid than a first opinion. Which, in this context, means that the opinion of a professional editor isn't necessarily any better than your own opinion - or, for that matter, the opinion of your best friend/mother/lover/dog.

Opinion is just opinion. It's a viewpoint; a perspective; the world as witnessed from a given vantage point (with all the emotional and intellectual luggage the critic happens to be carrying).

You may have written something so far off the beam that a professional editor simply can't engage with it, let alone edit it. You may be the next big thing trailblazing a whole new style. You may have mined a fresh seam of fiction that needs to be examined within its own terms, rather than fed through the treadmill of convention.

All that a professional editor is likely to do is show you how far you've drifted from the straight and narrow of literary orthodoxy. That's all. And that may not be where you want to be.



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Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue




You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.




You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.




You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.





Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.


Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.


Nick Daws' Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.






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Critiquing tip


Tip 1

Initially, send your manuscript (or a sample of it) as a Word document, or just paste 2000-3000 or so words into an email. Include a reasonably comprehensive synopsis, and explain exactly what you want from the critique.

Chances are, you already know - or have some idea - of where your strengths and weaknesses are. In which case, you may simply be looking for someone to check that you've achieved what you set out to achieve. Does my dialogue make sense? for instance. Or: Is my lead character consistent? Or: Is the pacing too slow? Or too fast? Keep in mind too that publishers employ people to do exactly this. The best way to think of a literary critique is as a pre-MOT check for your car; as something to make sure that your wheels will at least get you to the testing station.


Tip 2

Literary agents and submissions editors may not necessarily be all that impressed when you advise them that the manuscript you've just submitted has been reworked by a professional editor. Professional editing standards range from wonderful to abysmal, and literary agents and submissions editors are perfectly aware of this. Then again, the standards of literary agents and submissions editors also range from wonderful to abysmal. However, they're the one's in control.

On the plus side, mentioning the fact that you've had your manuscript professionally edited may impress and show commitment. On the minus side, it might also suggest that your work has been "adulterated" and make the literary agent or submissions editor wonder where your work starts and ends.

What can you do about it? Just "play it by ear". But I'd suggest that you don't mention the involvement of a professional editor, not until you feel it's really called for.

Your primary goal, remember, is to get the attention of a literary agent or submissions editor. And to that end, let them accept the work (or not) on its own terms.

And remember too; this is just my opinion.

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