Well, I’ve done it. I’ve written yet another novel, and now it’s time for a good ole fashioned manuscript critique. It’s completely separate from my previous novels, but still sticks to my preferred genre (urban fantasy, romance). Honestly, I didn’t intend for this to happen — I used to marvel at people on Twitter who had multiple WIPs going on. How could they focus? Was it difficult to channel their efforts? Did plots bleed together? Guess not, because I ended up doing it, too.
Yup, Castiel nails it. It was actually easier than I expected. While my original novel was being edited by the talented Lara, I had some free time on my hands. So, I started writing. I applied everything I had learned recently from participating in the plethora of Twitter contests and got steppin’. Then, when Lara delivered my book back to me, I used her constructive criticism and edits to continue shaping my new WIP. It all seemed to fall together nicely. I’m a little concerned that my previous book might not hit the right target market, so I’m going to give it a few months of sitting time and then I’ll revamp it. In the meantime, enter my new book, an urban fantasy about banshees.
Manuscript critique vs. substantive edits
I’ll be sending this work out for edits, too. Because this one is so new and has only seen my tired, editing eyes, I’ll be starting with a manuscript critique this time. Lara did a fantastic job with my previous novel, critiquing the first 10k and offering in-depth, line-by-line editing services. I’m a huge fan of this — substantive edits are a great way to tweak the voice of the overall piece and hone in on character development. If you’ve already had a MS crit, I’d definitely say invest in a line-by-line if you’re still having issues landing an agent. I learned a lot about my own writing style and the dos and don’ts of voice.
A manuscript critique, on the other hand, is an overall edit touching on any plot issues, glaring grammatical or developmental issues, or any other big-picture problem the editor might find. Sometimes editors will include something called a beat sheet (a breakdown of your book, chapter by chapter), or sometimes they’ll write a few paragraphs after each chapter or major section, highlighting important notes. They almost always (ALWAYS) use track changes.
Because Lara isn’t currently taking manuscript critiques, I opted for another preferred editor, Elizabeth Buege. She’s another editor over at MS Editors (seriously, if you guys have the funds and are in need of an editor, check these peeps out). I first connected with her over a Twitter contest (just like with Lara) and I really appreciated her insight. Can’t wait to see what she does with my work!
So if you’re like me and you’ve got a fresh novel on your hands, get it edited! I know a lot of people participating in #NaNoWriMo, which is great. But please, for the love of all things holy, don’t start querying without editing first. Finishing a novel is exciting — revel in it for a moment, do your own edits, get another editor on it or at least a beta reader, and then think about querying.
As always, happy writing!