Critiques – a good place to start,
or leap into structural editing if you’re confident
the novel’s ready
Critiques are like a structural editing report in summary:
they highlight main strengths and weaknesses and suggest
ways to make improvements.
If you’ve never had professional
input on your writing before, we recommend you start with
a critique. For more
experienced writers, they’re also useful for getting
an overview on a novel’s strengths before spending
more time on it or submitting to agents.
Many writers choose
to have two critiques or more at the same time – each
Fiction Feedback critique is independently written by one
of our reviewers. This is our standard service
and the value for money it confers is outstanding. Getting
two or three professional opinions of your work is invaluable.
Or, you can choose to pay for two critiques and use these
sequentially; the second for your revised draft after the
first critique, all from the same reviewer.
This is likely to be the next step after a critique, if
you didn’t choose this instead. It’s a detailed
look at the novel and usually consists of both a long report
and comments to the manuscript (MS) itself.
how the novel works. Does the plot hang together? Are characters
credible, well-defined and interesting?
Do they develop over the course of the novel? Is there
sufficient conflict? A strong narrative arc? Is the style
working well with the story? Do events occur in the right
order or could changes improve the pace or the drama? Is
the weighting given to different parts of the novel the
best possible? Are some sections told that should be shown,
and are there areas of obvious exposition that need a more
Developmental editing is just as important
for narrative non-fiction such as memoirs. The aspects
we examine are
much the same as the above.
You might find you return for
more editing with a revised draft (as of course is the
way in traditional publishing);
so try and budget for a second edit if you can.
This is almost the final phase and should only be undertaken
when you are sure that your novel is as good as it can
be. You’re unlikely to benefit from a copy-edit as
the first professional input on your novel, story or memoir.
is the stage where we look at the nuts and bolts of the
writing, such as grammar, word choice and punctuation,
and much more. We suggest where different words can be
used to better effect, where a phrase, sentence, or paragraph
is clumsy, out of place, ambiguous, anachronistic or repetitive,
and where smaller questions of plot, fact, sequence, timeline
or logic need to be addressed. It ensures consistency in
how elements such as times, numbers and dates are formatted.
It flags up and suggests changes where tense or viewpoint
is used inconsistently.
If you go back and make significant
changes to your novel after a copy-edit, all this work
will be wasted and it’s
why we remind you that it shouldn’t be contemplated
unless you’re confident your novel is ready.
grammar, spelling and punctuation and blips in plot and
logic are a major turn-off for agents and publishers
(and readers too.) Many inexperienced, aspiring authors
think that if their story is strong enough these things
won’t matter as they’ll be ironed out later.
Sadly, to gain acceptance by an agent or publisher in the
first place has become extremely difficult, and most spend
only a few minutes reading a manuscript before rejecting
it. The quality of the prose is the main thing they can
appreciate in that time. That’s why it’s best
to impress with professionally copy-edited work and give
your novel the best chance you can. If you’re self-publishing,
readers expect certain standards from the prose. If you
fall significantly short, they are unlikely to buy from
you again or recommend you. They might leave a negative
review. A good copy-edit is as essential as a professional
Your copy-edited manuscript will be returned
in Microsoft Word with all amendments shown and with the
comments visible. This gives you the chance to go through
the manuscript and consider the editing comments. It also
means you can see what changes have been made, and the
individual style sheet we also send listing the decisions
made regarding your manuscript enables you to apply what
you learn to future writing.
Proofreading: the final stage
Proofreading is only undertaken where the novel has been
copy-edited and is ready for publication: so we only provide
this service if you’re self-publishing. Sometimes
people say ‘proofing’ when really they mean
copy-editing. At Fiction Feedback, we only take on proofreading
for manuscripts where we’ve provided a professional