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A professional’s opinion.

 


 

Sometime at the end of March a fellow member of a writer’s group on Facebook, a published author himself, sent me a private message. ‘I cannot stress strongly enough how import it is for you to have your work professionally edited.  You have a cracking story there, and with the polish an expert can give it I cannot see how you would fail to obtain a publishing contract.’  He then recommended a company called Cornerstones, a name I was already familiar with.

Now I have toyed with the idea of professional editing before, but what has put me off so far is the cost.  It’s expensive.  VERY expensive!  But if it enhances our chances of getting our book in the shops then it’s something I have to consider.  So I looked further into it, and downloaded the list of packages and prices from the Cornerstones website.  They range from a brief overview of your synopsis for about £45.00 up to a highly detailed point-by-point breakdown of your entire manuscript costing, according to how big your work is, close to four figures.  Like I said, a lot of dosh! 

In the end, I elected for one of the more expensive packages, that includes a face-to-face meeting with our assigned editor, sent the printed manuscript through the post, (And that cost over £20.00 itself!)... and waited.  I have long had feelings of self-doubt over my writing, and this felt like I was laying my soul out naked on a bed for all to see!  I continually worried about what she would say.  Would I have to cut any characters out?  Would I have to rewrite whole scenes, or even entire chapters?  I knew there were weak points, but I still couldn’t think how to make them right.

Then, four weeks later, and ahead of schedule, the report arrived in my e-mail in-box.  To say I was happy would be an understatement!  In short, she concluded our work was ‘Highly marketable!’  Dead chuffed!  So, here below, is the opening section of her report, and beneath that the conclusion.  In between are about eighteen pages of detailed notes, but I don’t need to bore you with those!

 

Daughter of Chronos, Part 1 by Nigel and Deanna Nessling

 

 

In the seventeenth century, a storm ravages the town of Duncan Falls, and a young girl named Verity faces charges of witchcraft from an evil man, hell bent on blaming her for the weather and seeing her face the death penalty. In the present day, Finn Killibrand stumbles upon the witch’s story in his local museum and vows to undo the injustice of her death by going back in time to rescue her. With the help of his friends, he sets about trying to build a time machine, but time works in mysterious ways, as Finn will discover…



General Comments


Daughter of Chronos, Part 1 is a strong and compelling story, with memorable characters and a premise that is likely to stay with the reader long after the book is read. When I reached the end of the manuscript, I was eager to know what would happen in the next part, and would’ve carried on reading it if part 2 had been available! This is a great achievement, and I must commend you for maintaining the tension and intrigue from beginning to end.


The basic story is clear throughout, creating a tight and solid framework around which the novel is built. While some of the plot details need a bit of work, the fundamentals are in place, which means that the editing process doesn’t have to involve any terrifyingly major deconstruction of the novel. The story is well paced, allowing ample time for exposition, character development and the build-up of plot tension. It’s a good story and the arc of it is easy to follow and to get immersed into. Some excellent writing and good characters further strengthen the novel. There is certainly a great deal of potential here, and your passion for these characters and their story is plain to see.


The main issues that I feel need to be addressed for the next draft are the tendency for overwriting and ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’, as well as some threads of the plot that aren’t as convincing as they could be. There are also some character arcs that could be enhanced to strengthen the novel as a whole.


Your target audience is clear and your concept is strong, and with a bit of focused editing, this could be a highly marketable piece of young adult fiction.



Marketability, Conclusion and Next Steps

 

You have a highly marketable idea here, and with a bit of work, I can see this manuscript being very attractive to agents and editors on the lookout for young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. The fact that it is part of a series also works in its favour, as there is the promise of more, and the subsequent parts are allowed to feed off the success of the first one.


Your passion for this story is obvious, and if you can extend this passion to the redrafting process and be willing to make the difficult changes where necessary, then I feel this novel will go from strength to strength.


Editing is, arguably, more difficult than the initial writing process; writers grow attached to things that may need culling and grow blind to things that may need attention. Try to put yourself into the reader’s shoes as much as possible.


It’s also not a bad idea to share extracts with trusted readers who will give you honest, constructive feedback as you make important changes. When asking people for feedback, it’s always best to pose specific questions, or else you’re likely to get a well meant but rather unhelpful “I enjoyed it!” in response. Refer to specific issues raised in this report when you formulate questions – and you can ask yourself these questions too!


So, what’s next? There are a number of ways you can progress from this point. After working through some of the issues and ideas and chatting to me in your consultation with the manuscript in hand, you could redraft and submit to agents, if you feel confident enough to do so.


Alternatively, you could send the redrafted work back to us for another report, either from me or

from new reader if you’d like a fresh perspective. You could also outline your revisions and submit them for a mini-critique, together with sample changes, to highlight any potential issues and boost your confidence before you redraft the novel completely.


It has been a great pleasure reading Daughter of Chronos Part 1, and I wish you the best of luck as you take the novel forward.

 

 


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