Before you plunk down a pile of cash for copyediting, you need to make sure your story is ready. If you’re the only one who’s read it, if you’re not satisfied with it yet, if you still have questions about conflict, tension, character development, or structure — or if you’re flat-out stuck and just can’t see it anymore — a manuscript critique is your best next step. We have a few different approaches so you can choose your own adventure:
- Comprehensive critique
- Mini critique
Our comprehensive critique provides a thorough analysis of your current draft. We read your full manuscript and annotate the entire draft, giving you a window onto your reader’s experience. We leave notes wherever we laugh, cry, jump, or groan. We ask questions wherever they occur to us and let you know where we were confused. We highlight material to consider cutting and point out places that the writing is not serving the reader.
As we read your manuscript, we’re also taking notes on the bigger picture. If our notes in the manuscript are the trees, the critique letter is the forest. We’ll write an in-depth analysis (8-15 pages, single spaced) that addresses how the elements of fiction are being handled in this draft. We’ll talk about plots and subplots, story world, character development, tension, structure, exposition, and more.
After you’ve had a chance to read our notes in the manuscript and think about the critique letter for a few days, we’ll schedule a 1-hour phone call to discuss your novel. At this point, we’re both experts on it, so it’s a very interesting conversation.
A comprehensive manuscript critique will give you very specific constructive criticism that’s designed to move you into the next draft with confidence and enthusiasm.
Components of a comprehensive critique
- Fully annotated manuscript (we average a comment per page, but that can vary wildly)
- Comprehensive critique letter (8-15 pages, single spaced — however long it takes)
- One-hour phone consultation
- Two hours of developmental editing (expires after 60 days)
A mini critique is an excellent way to get an idea of how your current draft would fare in the wild. What might happen if you sent this out to agents right now? What kind of reviews would you get if you indie published this tomorrow? A mini critique will tell you.
With a mini critique, we’ll read the entire manuscript and make very light annotations. When we’re finished reading, we’ll schedule a 1-hour phone call to talk about your novel’s prospects. Is it time to send it out? Is it time to go back to the drawing board? We’ll give you our honest opinion, then help you decide what steps to take next.
Components of a mini critique
- Lightly annotated manuscript
- One-hour phone consultation
- Our thoughts for your next 3 steps
Mentorship & developmental editing
Our mentorship program developed out of the realization that some of our clients got stuck after bringing their novels to us for critique. This was something we’d wanted to do for years: How to not just tell writers what they need to do, but to also teach them how to do it. This January (with the help of a brilliant book called Deep Work by Cal Newport), we figured it out.
Components of a mentorship
Identify a few wildly ambitious goals.
For example, “Finish a first draft by X date,” “Tighten the story arc,” “Create compelling character arcs,” or “Submit to 25 agents this month.”
Research market and craft.
Reading homework? Libraries and bookstores? Huzzah!
Produce work that will lead to a stronger manuscript.
This is measured in terms of outlines, scenes, pages, drafts, and rounds of critique.
Set a cadence of accountability (Cal Newport’s words) that keeps you on track for your goals.
Schedule regular check-ins that let you work at your own pace: daily, weekly, or monthly phone calls and emails, or anything in between.
We love working with writers.
Our favorite projects:
Meghan: all kinds of novels — current favorites are literary fiction, historical fiction, suspense, adventure, middle grade, and ghost stories
Sunny Cooper: memoir, literary fiction, poetry, travel, young adult, children’s, women writers
Matthew Arkin: mystery/crime, sci-fi/fantasy, YA, screenplays & scripts