A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: Critique Partner

Critical Reader Checklist: Act 3

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Photo by Yuri Efremov

Your book has covered a lot of ground to reach Act 3. Now its time for reader payoff. If you’re a writer, this critical reader checklist of questions will help you ensure Act 3 is clear and rewarding for readers. If you’re a critical reader, responding to these questions will help you provide invaluable feedback to the writer. (Missed my previous checklists? You may like to start with Chapter 1 or Act 1.)

Story Progression and Reader Engagement

Does each scene build your anticipation of the final resolution of the conflict?

Does each character realisation build towards the character’s Moment of Truth?
(Or even foreshadow their final state, particularly if the character is an antagonist with a positive arc, who changes sides at the end)?

Does the tension of Act 3 pull you in and hold you in from start to finish?

Scene Level Considerations

Do scenes give you enough time to absorb events and information, especially character deaths?

Are there thematic or scene-level elements (too many things going on) which distract you from the resolution or which make it harder to follow?

Climactic Moment

Are you with the main character, whose at the heart of the action during the climatic moment?

Or does narration flit between point of view characters scattered between conflict locations too often?

Or does the main character observe others actions too much, making this scene feel emotionally distant?

Does anything else distract you, or make you impatient for the scene to get a move on or reduce its tension?

Has the writer positioned you to scream encouragement at the main character through the climactic moment? Are you excited, thrilled or really happy when they triumph? Or shattered if they don’t?
Or did you not connect emotionally to them well enough throughout the novel to care much either way?

The Resolution

Is each aspect of the conflict, and each step of how it needs to be resolved and why clear to you?

Do particular skills or abilities of each pov and secondary character play a relevant and fulfilling role in the resolution of the conflict?

Does the resolution deliver on thematic promises, e.g. character lessons, framing key themes of the story and showing the role they play in the resolution?
Or was it mentioned that Tom needed to learn to make friends, and that subplot was forgotten? Did it play no role in the resolution, breaking that promise to you as a reader?

A Satisfying Ending?

Are you feeling satisfied by the way characters resolve their differences?

By how supporting characters being their typical self helped resolve the story problem?

Are you satisfied with how the story is wrapped up, and with the state in which you depart the story world and its characters?

If not, is this because the ending feels rushed? Or did the story stop too soon, leaving things unresolved that you wanted to know about and which would have made the ending more satisfying for you?
Or does an epic conflict leave the world in a state of devastation, instead of fast forwarding to a scene showing that the world does in fact recover?

Not the Last Book in a Series?

If this book marks the end of one stage in an epic conflict (as opposed to a stand alone novel), do you still feel there was a clear beginning, significant plot development and that it took you on a journey? Is Act 3 leaving you satisfied with the ground covered in this book?

Are you satisfied with how much characters have grown in this book, or did they feel flat or their growth stagnate at any point?

Does this book’s final state scene show which things pov characters are still grappling with, foreshadowing what their character development may involve in the next book?

Is it clear how, despite this book’s main conflict being resolved, a significant element of conflict is still out there? and are you left with some idea of who it still threatens and how?
Does this suggested continuance of conflict feel like an organic continuance of story, or like its been tacked on? Does it feel like another great instalment in a saga, or a prequel movie designed to make it producers money?

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Critical Reader Checklist: Act 2

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Photo by Seven Shooter

Some writers dread the middle of a novel. Its an easy place for characters, themes, plots and subplots to get stuck, lost, or to go on unnecessary tangents. The critical reader questions in this post are designed to help reader feedback to support the writer in keeping Act 2 on track, and ensuring it gives the reader a good experience. (I developed them while working with and as a beta reader, and they have companion blogs for Chapter One and an Act 1).

Are the Characters Engaging?

Are you seeing enough character actions, and hearing enough dialogue and internal thoughts to feel tensions between characters?

Have you seen enough of character’s personalities to understand why certain characters are drawn to or inclined to be in conflict with each other?

Do you react to some character actions with ‘of course he/ she/ they did!” because you feel you are getting to know them?

Do you know any characters well enough to guess what they may do next? Does this make the story more engaging?

Is the Story Engaging?

Does each chapter end by doing at least one of the following:

-adding tension between key players?

-providing another clue in the overall mystery?

-affirming or challenging the lie the pov character believes?

-adding another complication the pov character must overcome to resolve the main conflict? Eg. the character gets something wrong and makes their own life harder.

-moved the pov character nearer to getting what they want, what they need or (if it differs from both) does each chapter take them a step closer to resolving the main story conflict?

Character Development & Plausibility

Can you follow the character’s logic as they persist in believing a lie, or begin to realise the truth?

Do you see and are you convinced by why the character still clings to the lie?

Are you convinced by how characters experiences are changing them?

Progression

Are you being shown or reminded of things you’ve already seen (especially when it seems unnecessary?) Or is each scene making you feel like the story is moving forward and drawing you on to its next stage?

If you don’t feel the story is moving, and you’re starting to lose interest -which bits aren’t appealing to you? Do you know why or what the writer could change to resolve this?

Are relationship dynamics between characters -positive or negative- being tested and changing? Or is everyone getting along perfectly? And is the supporting cast solely focused on helping the MC achieve their goal (instead of characters having their own goals? And are character relationships too idealistic and or flat?

Story Tone

Occasionally, I’ve beta read books with an Act One mixing serious themes, humour and playfulness, then in Act 2 -boom! The story turns a corner and is suddenly twice as dark or twice as violent as Act 1’s tone led me to think it would be. So are you jolted by how light or heavy, how serious or playful, how gentle or violent later chapters are, compared to earlier ones?

Story Focus

Does the story home in on particular themes, particular relationships and particular character goals?

Does it focus on too many things for you to follow or appreciate?

Or does it focus only on one or two main things, when there’s room and other things you’d like to see further developed to give you a real sense of payoff?

Connections

If the characters went to that place, or the MC was given that thing, or we know a secondary character loves x, does the middle of the story start referring back to and building on these?

Examples:

Does the secondary character’s knowledge because of an interest you’ve already read about, or skills from a hobby mentioned earlier start helping the MC tackle aspects of the story problem?

Does the location where we met key players later yield clues in solving the murder? Or is it a place about which we know family secrets are kept or where other allies are now being sought?

If there something about a character, a place, a device etc that got your interest, but hasn’t been developed and that you would like to see more of?

Action Scenes

Can you picture who is where, doing what? Or are there so many details that you lose sight of the main actions in a scene?

Are you hanging on the edge of your seat, reading short, sharp sentences which narrate at the speed the scene unfolds? Or is some of the suspense and tension killed by long winded sentences?

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12 Critical Reader Partnership Tips

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Photo by CoWomen

You’ve found a critical reader or a story to read! How can you ensure that working with the reader or the writer is a positive, productive experience? I’d like to say the hard part is finding each other and from now on it will all be sunshine and rainbows, but I’ve heard stories of critical reader feedback such as, “This is wrong” or “That was poorly done” and even “You’re such a bad writer.” Or maybe you agreed to read a novel, you get it and… it’s not your cup of tea, or so raw that just re-reading to figure out what’s happening will take more time than you want to give it. To help you create effective partnerships (and pull out of ineffective or negative ones), here’s 6 critical reader tips for positive partnerships, and 6 tips for productive partnerships.

6 Tips for Positive Partnerships

1. Ensure feedback is given with the aim of improving the quality of the writing

Ideally, feedback will indicate where the writing can be clearer, easier to follow and a more engaging read. It will spell out when the reader gets confused, when they start to lose interest, what they want more of and what they really enjoy. It won’t be, “This is wrong/ rubbish/ you should never…” Aside from being negative, all that really says is, “I think something here doesn’t work.” That’s of limited help. Whereas feedback like, “This scene was a bit slow for me,” suggests the problem and a solution -editing to accelerate pace and keep the reader engaged.

General positive statements can also help with editing. Its easy to lose sight of whether your writing is any good when you edit, so as a reader, commenting on things you find effective, entertaining or which really impact on you can help writers identify what’s working –and to not lose sight of and accidentally edit it out.

2. Ensure Feedback accounts for the reader’s personal bias.

If you want to make a suggestion but can’t cite an objective reason, its good to let the writer know, “This might just be my preference but…. ” Objective statements like “This should…” can make the writer feel that ‘everyone’ sees it that way and they ‘must’ change something, when reading can be very subjective and it may only be some readers who find it that way.

3. Feedback Is Honest.

Holding back to ‘spare the writer’s feelings’ does not improve the quality of the writing. Yes, feedback can be painful, especially if the writer in question sees every observation or suggestion as something they ‘did wrong’, as opposed to something they ‘can do more effectively.’ But the writer is asking for feedback because they believe comments about how a reader sees their story can help them tell their story more effectively, so denying them feedback isn’t helpful. If you’re inclined to hold back because of prior experience with giving a writer feedback, no. 4 might be the problem.

4. The Writer Must Be Receptive to Feedback.

No, I don’t mean ‘the writer has to edit everything the critical reader says.’ A critical reader may love that character and want to know more about their backstory, or for the book to delve deeper into theme x. They may suggest the writer do so and the writer may disregard that feedback, because it doesn’t fit with what they’re trying to do with their story.

I’m talking about writers who are consistently defensive or argumentative in the face of feedback. Writers who seem unwilling to receive constructive feedback, let alone act upon it. I’m also talking about writers I’ve seen tweets about, who appear to think a critical reader’s job is to shower them with praise, not to indicate that they have work to do. If either description matches the writer you’re reading for -your time may be wasted on them.

Writers, I’m not saying you can’t wince or flinch when you get feedback, especially on your first book (and you’re more likely to do so if you see suggestions as ‘I did something wrong,’ as opposed to, ‘here’s a potential opportunity to make my writing more effective for readers’). Nor am I saying the reader won’t make occasional comments about your story that are incorrect. What I’m saying is if your standard reaction to feedback is to defend yourself -you’re not being attacked, the reader is trying to help you improve your writing- or to argue -yes, a reader may make mistakes, but arguing with most things they say is essentially sticking your fingers in your ears- then you need to step back, and figure out why you respond this way to constructive criticism before seeking more of it.

Is Feedback Positively Phrased?

Is it “This is poorly done” and “Why are you doing that?” Or is it, “This word is repeated 5 times in 2 lines”? Or “I’m not convinced by the character doing x because y”. There is a line between being honest and direct and being arrogant, talking down to people or constantly telling them they’re doing it wrong. It can be hard to spot, and different people may perceive it as lying at different points. But if you’re finding feedback stressful, if it’s eroding your confidence or negatively impacting on your wellbeing or writing, it may be that you need to part with your critical reader because their feedback is too negative. (It may also be that you’re not in the right frame of mind to work with critical readers at that point, because life is negatively impacting how you respond to constructive, as opposed to negative feedback -especially during covid times.)

If you still find negative feedback helpful, bear in mind that constant negativity can wear anyone out -so try to phrase your feedback in terms of how the writing impacted on you as a reader- not ‘objectively’ judging what’s ‘wrong’ with the writing.

6. Does Feedback speak to the writer or reader as an equal, or lecture them?

Have you ever asked someone a question about a particular topic, and they assume you know nothing and start explaining everything about it? Don’t be the writer who assumes the reader has completely misunderstood your character and begins explaining things the reader’s other comments tell you they already know. Don’t be the writer who spots a potential gap in your critique partner’s craft and starts lecturing them in crafting that aspect 101, when -as is likely- you’ve just found one of their many author bias blindspots, or they thought that was a problem but they didn’t realise how big a problem it was.

If you aren’t sure what was unclear to the reader, ask a clarifying question. Eg. “Were you unsure how Barry’s relationship with Fred impacted on Barry’s decision, or why Barry made the choice he made or about something else?” Don’t lecture your critique partner about pacing, just say, “I’m wanting the story to move on now.” Or, “I think you could cut this paragraph without the story losing anything.” Starting a conversation with a reader or writer this way gives them a chance to respond and show you what they know or what they’re thinking, as well as being clear and effective communication. (As a primary school teacher by trade, I’m very conscious of this, because its how I make a living.)

6 Tips for Productive Partnerships

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Photo by krakenimages

1. Only agree to read (or swap) the first 1-3 chapters initially.

As a Reader You may find that the book isn’t your cup of tea. That you don’t want to read the whole thing. Or perhaps you find it interesting, but so much isn’t working for you, and or commenting on this novel would be a bigger time commitment than you’re prepared to make.

As a Writer You may find critical reader feedback unhelpful. If you’ve asked the reader to comment on character and plot development and how they find the overall story, and they mostly comment on your punctuation, I’d be saying, “Sorry, I don’t think we’re well-matched.” If this happens, here’s some places to find more critical readers.

2. Talk about how much you can read/ edit and over what time period upfront.

How many chapters are you aiming to read a day/ week/ fortnight? Don’t assume you have a similar balance of day job, family life, reading/ writing etc as your reader/ critique partner. Some of my initial CPs finished editing their whole books with other CPs while we were only up to commenting on each other’s chapter 6-9. Knowing what your goal is helps you have realistic expectations about what to expect from each other, and when.

3. Tell the reader what you’d like them to focus on, or tell the writer what you’re likely to notice and comment on.

As a Reader: the writer may be grateful for any and all feedback, but they may also want feedback on particular things. If, for example, you’re passionate about world building and the writer is desperate for feedback on their characters -you may identify from the outset that you’re not the right match. Or (as is probably more likely) -knowing that world building is your thing- the writer may also seek another beta reader who’s passionate about characters.

As a Writer: if you don’t ask your critical readers to comment on anything in particular, they may not happen to comment on things your editing focused on, leaving you no idea whether those edits did enough to support or engage the reader. You may also find that your critical reader comments only on what they like, or don’t like, or -if they’re also a writer- on aspects of craft which happen to be their personal strengths. This can leave you without an overall impression of how readers see your character, plot or tone and can mean missed editing opportunities. Yes, these impressions are subjective, but I recently noticed that one of my battle scenes may be far darker than I intended for a YA Fantasy, and that kind of overall impression is useful for a writer to know.

For ideas on what to ask your critical readers to look for, see my Act 1 Critical Reader Checklist.

4. Critique Partners: Allow for Stylistic Differences

I was conscious of this from the first as a critique partner, because one of the writers I was reading for favoured longer phrasing and descriptive writing, while my style is more concise. I had to think carefully about whether his style was slowing the pace and losing story tension at a chapter level, or whether I was getting hung up on his sentences because I didn’t like their style. As a CP -style isn’t your concern- but things like losing interest because of drawn out sentences slowing the pace is. So if your CP’s writing style is different -respect it- and try to only comment on it when it poses problems for you as a reader.

5. When you’ve Given/ Received Feedback 

As a reader if you’ve given feedback, eg. you can’t visualise the scene, and you see from the writer’s reply, revised chapters or Google docs that the writer has ignored that feedback, I suggest just commenting on what they are editing at that time, as they may only focus on certain things during each edit. However, if the writer appears to be editing hardly anything -again you may have a writer unwilling to take on feedback, best parted with.

As a Writer Don’t hesitate to ask the reader if they could comment a bit less or a bit more about certain things. I have a tendency to get hung up on sentence structure, but some of my CPs have been more interested in my thoughts and feelings on characters and how engaged I am in the story. So if you want less feedback of one kind or more of another: ask for it. 

If you get feedback you think is helpful, but you’d like to know more -ask a follow up question. When I interviewed Halla Williams recently, she said that when she got feedback on her query letter, “I really interrogated it.” She asked follow up questions based on reader comments, then revised certain things and asked if people could take another look. As one of her critical readers, I saw how much her drafts developed and how much stronger her query letter became from one revision to the next, which asking follow up questions clearly helped with.

6. Be Flexible

Even if a critical reader wants to read the whole book, or both critique partners are invested in commenting on each other’s books till the end, life happens. Circumstances can differ and vary across time. During my country’s second lock down, I had a few restless days where I wanted to escape and I smashed through half my CP’s novel. Then I reached a point where I was so emotionally drained and exhausted that I couldn’t write comments which made sense, and I had to stop reading for her for 3 months. During covid times more than ever, I’d see timeframes you agree on as aspirational.

As a writer, you can have critical readers or CPs pull out for one reason or other at any time. During covid times, this is more likely. So don’t rely on one or two critical readers. Have at least three and ideally more. If someone can only comment on your first 3 chapters when you’d really like feedback on the entire book -take them up on the offer for three. It all helps.

Beta Readers & Critique Partners

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Photo by Katerina Kerdi 

You’ve written your novel. You’ve revised and edited it multiple times. Now you know it so well that you can’t see the forest for the trees. You need critical reader feedback. Ideally it’ll be from observant beta readers and critique partners with different strengths to you. And help hone your craft, while readying your novel for querying or self publishing. So where can you find effective critical readers? And do you need a sensitivity reader or an editor? Once you’ve had feedback and used it to edit your novel, how will you know when you’ve finished editing?

Five Free Feedback Options

1 Scribophile

My search for critical readers began with Scribophile. This is an online community where writers earn karma points for critiquing each other’s chapters and where gaining enough points lets you post your own chapter for feedback. The free version involves posting one chapter at a time, so its a good space to seek line edit or within-chapter feedback.

However, if you work at a different pace to other writers, you may critique their chapter 1, then find their chapter 4 is ready (my experience). As a reader, you can end up reading single chapters many novels, without reading whole stories. As a writer, it can be difficult to get feedback on plot and character development across chapters and feedback from the same readers on multiple chapters. I received some good feedback on Scribophile, but there were issues across my opening chapters its readers didn’t get the chance to spot. So if you’re seeking feedback on plot and character arcs, you may need a paid membership for autonomy over who reads your chapters and when.

2. Critique Circle is similar, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say how it compares.

3. Social Media Writing Communities

If you don’t have writer contacts, its well worth joining Instagram’s or Blue Sky’s writing community. (For advice on getting started, see this post.) Whether you’ve made writer friends, or are new to social media, you can post asking who’s willing to trade feedback (or just asking for beta readers, but you’re more likely to get a critical reader if you’re willing to be one).

I’d share a brief blurb of your work (use a paragraph long pitch for Insta or as a graphic on Blue Sky, if you’ve written one). I’d also mention if you’re willing to trade just opening chapters, even if you’d ideally like feedback on the whole novel.

My last round of chapter swaps was going to be opening chapters only, but it became the opening third of the novel, so you never know. I’d also mention any genres you prefer to read or prefer your critique partner to write. You’ll need relevant hashtags on Insta/ keywords like ‘writers’/ #WritingCommunity on Blue Sky.

On Instagram

The most popular tags are #Beta Reader and #BetaReaders, but you’ll find some posts on #CritiquePartner and #CritiquePartners. Again, I suggest posting about finding critical readers AND searching the above tags on Insta to see posts seeking critique partners and replying to them.

Two of my critique partners from Twitter edited much faster than I did, so we only traded the first 6 and 9 chapters respectively. But the feedback they gave was useful in addressing issues with character logic and pacing beyond my chapters they read. One beta reader read up to halfway through my Act 2, while the third critique partner (a twitter friend) and I critiqued each other’s whole novel. Depending on many circumstances, a critique partner or beta reader may not make it to the end of your novel, but they’re my favourite way to get feedback on all aspects of it.

Hosted Critical Reader Meet Ups on Twitter

(NB: having deleted my account in 2023 I no longer know if these are still running —you’ll have to check).

#BetaBash by @Madeline_Pine is a quarterly event to help writers and beta readers get to know each other. Its a series of hosted prompts findable on the hashtag. You can tweet your reply (on the tag), including your blurb, audience age and genre for potential beta readers to see.

#CPMatch by @Megan_Lally is another quarterly tag. This one is for tweeting your blurb, genre and audience age to fellow writers willing to trade MS’s with each other.

4. Facebook Groups

There are a LOT of critical reader groups on Facebook. This one is for finding Fantasy Beta and ARC readers (the latter providing reviews of the finished draft before the book is released). I’m a member of it and have seen writers posting and getting a few offers to read, though I haven’t sought readers there myself. I suggest searching your genre and ‘critical readers’ on Facebook, to find a relevant group for your writing. You may like to search your sub-genre and ‘critical readers’ too, as there are several sub-genre critical reader groups for romance, and there may be for other genres.

5. Discord

If you haven’t heard of it, Discord began with gamers, but there are a growing number of writer groups on it. A Discord server can have as many channels (each acting as a communal feed), covering as many topics as its admins like. A lot of writer Discord groups have channels for seeking critical readers, where you can write a blurb of your book and see if anyone’s interested.

To find Discord group descriptions and invitations, type ‘Discord’ and ‘#WritingCommunity’ into the social media of your choice’s search bar. Or post to your ask followers if they can recommend one. If you’d like an invite to the craft and querying server I’m admin of, you’re welcome to reply to my posts about it on Blue Sky, on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

Further Reading

For more options to find critical readers and advice on working with them, see @LombardEmma‘s Finding & Using Beta Readers.  

For specific questions to guide critical reader feedback (or to guide your feedback as a critical reader), see my Chapter One Checklist and Act 1 Checklist.

Two Mentoring Programs to Apply For

If you’ve had feedback from critical readers, but would like more, from more experienced writers than yourself, there are mentoring programs. You’d need to work in close partnership, and be lucky, as there are many writers seeking mentors in the below programs.

For #AuthorMentorMatch and #Pitchwars, the mentors are authors. For #Revpit they are editors. #Pitchwars mentors also give editorial feedback on your query package.

1 #AuthorMentorMatch, is run by @AuthorMentorMatch and occurs in January. For more details, visit the Author Mentor Match website. For the prompts/ chats leading up to submissions, see the #AMM hashtag on twitter.

2 #Revpit is Revision & Editor Mentoring for MG, YA & Adult Fiction, which begins with pitching on Twitter in April (10th). For more details, visit the Revpit Website.

Paid Editing Feedback

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Photo by Thought Catalog

Paid Critiques

If you can afford a ($45 US) fee for your opening chapters to be marked on a rubric covering the works, by editors or writers with degrees -I recommend entering Ink & Insights (March to June). I entered 2 different manuscripts on 3 occasions. I received 4 pages of helpful comments (one from each judge) each time, with a detailed rubric. In this competition, you are numerically scored by all 4 judges. One loved both my manuscripts and scored them highly, one wasn’t fussed and gave them a low score, and the other two scored my manuscript in the middle, but the feedback from all four was consistent. That feedback and the rubric were helpful in pinpointing specific aspects for my next rounds of edits to focus on.

Sensitivity Readers

If your wip features point of view characters from marginalised groups to which you do not belong and or touches on issues affecting those groups, it may be appropriate for you to hire a sensitivity reader. Ideally, you have done your homework on the marginalised group(s) in question, but a sensitivity reader may pick up on issues neither your lived experience nor Google can tell you. If you’d like to know more about sensitivity readers and whether or not you may need to hire one, this article may help.

Am I Finished? & Do I Need an Editor?

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Photo by Andrew Neel

Identifying when you have finished editing can be a huge challenge, especially with a first novel. Despite how helpful my Ink & Insights comments and feedback from four critical readers were, my revisions only targeted the symptoms of some underlying problems. I sent my novel to another beta reader and edited again, but my final solutions to story tension and fully developing point of view characters came from my editor Amelia Wiens. After two manuscript critiques with her, I am finally confident I’m ready to query.

Deciding whether hiring an editor is worth your while depends on your personal circumstances and goals. In my case, I could afford a developmental edit. I saw it as a personal crash course in developing characters and story tension. And I learned lessons I can apply to all future novels from it. So for me, it was worth the money.

As there’s only so much time and energy unpaid beta readers and critique partners can put into feedback, if your plot, characters or story structure may be lacking, a manuscript critique/ structural report may be a good fix.

Considering Hiring an Editor?

Get a sample edit! Check if they understand what you’re trying to do with your novel. See if there’s indications that working with them will be a valuable learning experience, as well as making your novel a more engaging read.

Self Publishing your First Book?

If you’re on a tight budget, here’s some well reasoned advice by editor Derek Murphy on why hiring an editor may not be the best idea. (He describes his services in this post, but he does so in the context of giving ball park figures for developmental and copy editing and proof reading costs.)

Editor Resources

For Definitions of developmental & Copy Editing and Proof Reading Services, with clear examples and advice on which order its best to use these services in, see Hiring an Editor, Should I Spend the Money? by Maryleee MacDonald.

5 Things Author’s Need To Know Before Hiring an editor (an interview with editor Staci Frenes by Mixtus Media) is also a good read. It details the benefits of hiring an editor and giving advice on finding a professional, reliable editor who’s likely to be a good fit for your book.

Tips to Tell if Your Editing is Finished

Have you rectified issues which could get you rejected by a literary agent?

Even if you intend to self publish, looking at resources where literary agents state reasons they tend to pass on submissions can improve the quality of your work. In this video 7 agents give 3 reasons for rejecting an MS. While in this one Meg Latore talks about why literary agents may reject the first five pages. Both videos can act as partial “have I finished editing yet?” checklists.

A Final Test of Editing Being Finished

Can you pitch your novel? Can you, in Query Sharks ‘sweet spot’ of 250-350 words;
Introduce your Main Character (+ their want/ goal if you like)
Introduce their inciting event, the central conflict & stakes
Mention a major complication to MC ability to resolve conflict, including increased stakes (if applicable)
Mention character growth that must occur for the MC to resolve the conflict and avoid the stakes/ the impossible choice the MC must make?

When I pitched in my first two Pitmad’s, I had trouble defining my MC’s goal and character growth they needed to undertake to reconcile the external conflict. There were still gaps and ambiguity in my main character’s arc (the one’s my editor later helped with). Everyone finds writing a pitch difficult. It takes ages. But if, after reading pitch crafting advice like the articles I’ve linked here and receiving feedback, you still struggle to nail any pitch ingredients, there may be a hole in your character or external plot arc. In that case, I suggest using resources on plot and character development like, like my post on developing characters.

Whichever stage of the editing process you’re at -good luck!

Further Reading (Resources Linked Above)

Critical Reader Sites

Scribophile & Critique Circle

Fantasy Arc & Beta Readers FB Group

Paid Critique: Ink & Insights 

Critical Reader Resources

My Chapter One Checklist and Act 1 Checklist (which links to Act 2 and 3 lists) of questions to help guide critical reader feedback.

12 Critical Reader Partnership Tips

Editing Resources

Do I Need A Sensitivity Reader?

Do you really need a book editor by editor Derek Murphy.

Hiring an Editor, Should I Spend the Money? by Maryleee MacDonald.

5 Things Author’s Need To Know Before Hiring an editor (an interview with editor Staci Frenes by Mixtus Media)

Instagram Hashtags

#Beta Reader #BetaReaders some posts on #CritiquePartner & #CritiquePartners

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