Immersing yourself wholly in your story and characters is one of the true pleasures of writing, but stepping away from the world of your book to find the objectivity you need to move it on to the next stage can be more difficult. If you do find yourself caught in this ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ situation, having your manuscript critiqued or edited can be of tremendous benefit.
There are many different types of critiques and assessments on offer from established authors, literary agents and editors. Some offer straightforward critiques, while others offer manuscript assessments which are substantive edits in all but name, so you will need to consider each service carefully before deciding which one is right for you.
Straightforward critiques can be very useful in giving an author an excellent general overview of what is working or not working in their manuscript and they are usually cheaper than a full substantive edit. However, this type of review doesn’t suit everyone. For many, it simply increases the frustration. As one writer put it ‘Now I know exactly what the problems are, but I still don’t know how to fix them. Let’s face it, if I knew that already, they wouldn’t have been there in the first place!’
So, if you are trying to decide between a critique or substantive edit, it is probably worth looking at the sort of comments you’ve been getting from friends or writing group colleagues so far. Are there recurring patterns of problems cropping up? Are the comments hinting at a major problem (say, for example, your main character is not working) and you have no idea how to sort it out?
If you do find yourself in this distressing position, then a full substantive edit could well be the way forward, and though more expensive in the short-term, it could prove much better value for money in the long-term, if it helps you avoid some of those irritating manuscript problems in the future.
For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at www.booknannyfictioneditor.com.