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Ten Reasons Why a Manuscript Evaluation may be just What a Writer Needs

Compared to comprehensive developmental editing or line editing, manuscript evaluations are often more affordable.

 If a writer is unsure about the overall viability of their manuscript, a manuscript evaluation can save time.

The scenario is common. A writer gets stuck at a certain stage of the manuscript. It could be after 5,000 words or 50,000 or 250,000 but another pair of eyes is needed.

The immediate question becomes to copy edit or to developmental edit? There are frantic posts for advice. 

But the wrong question has been asked. The right question is which service do I need? Yes, you may very well need a copy or a developmental edit on your work, but you might not. 

There are more services out there and writers should know about them.

In my last post, I discussed reasons why a writer might turn to a writing coach. Today, I wish to discuss why a writer might save time and money and choose a manuscript evaluation over a line (copy) edit or a developmental edit. 

  1. Broad Perspective: A manuscript evaluation provides an overall assessment of the manuscript, offering a big-picture view of its strengths and weaknesses. It helps writers understand how their story is working as a whole.
  2. Objective Feedback: Evaluators provide unbiased feedback on various elements of the manuscript, including plot, pacing, character development, and overall structure. They can identify potential issues and provide suggestions for improvement without getting involved in the nitty-gritty details.
  3. Early Stage Assistance: Manuscript evaluations are valuable in the early stages of writing when the manuscript may still be evolving. Writers can receive guidance and direction on major aspects before investing time and effort into line editing or developmental editing.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to comprehensive developmental editing or line editing, manuscript evaluations are often more affordable. They provide valuable insights without the expense of a full edit, making them a cost-effective option for many writers.
  5. Time Efficiency: If a writer is unsure about the overall viability of their manuscript, a manuscript evaluation can save time. It helps identify major issues that need addressing before moving forward with more detailed editing, preventing unnecessary work on flawed elements.
  6. Decision-Making Aid: A manuscript evaluation assists writers in making important decisions about the direction of their work. It can help determine if the story has potential for further development or if significant revisions are required before proceeding.
  7. Flexibility: Writers can choose to receive a manuscript evaluation at any stage of the writing process. Whether it's a first draft, a partially completed manuscript, or a final draft, an evaluation can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.
  8. Targeted Feedback: Evaluators can focus on specific aspects requested by the writer. For example, if the writer is concerned about the pacing or characterization, the evaluation can emphasize these areas, providing targeted feedback to address specific concerns.
  9. Reader Perspective: Manuscript evaluations simulate the experience of a reader encountering the work for the first time. This perspective helps writers understand how their story resonates with readers, ensuring they can make necessary adjustments to engage their target audience effectively.
  10. Empowerment: A manuscript evaluation empowers writers by offering constructive criticism, highlighting the manuscript's strengths, and guiding them toward improvement. It provides a solid foundation for writers to enhance their work and build confidence in their storytelling abilities.

With all of those factors in mind, consider these scenarios. Take Author A, she's 30,000 words in, but she has not once stopped to evaluate her pace. Still, it niggles at her occassionally. Just get it all out on the page, she is told over and over on every website, at her writer's group, on her social media forums. 

Finally, she is ready to hire an editor and she goes for the developmental edit.

Author A is dismayed to find out 250,000 words in that her pace is all off. She's exhausted from the revisions, she was so sure she was at the finish line and that there would be only minor tweaks, perhaps, a sharper ending would be needed, tighter prose certainly, but discovering how much of her pace is off makes her feel she's back at square one. 

If Author A had stopped at 30,000 words and received a manuscript evaluation, fixing her pace at that point in the novel would have been a relatively minor revision and much less costly than a developmental edit at 250,000 words. She would have received guidance going forward regarding her pace until the end of the novel.
Now, deleting dozens of pages to speed up the slow pace, combing through to eliminate the words weighing down her prose, introducing the antagonist far earlier, inserting foreshadowing to create suspense and once again, pick up the pace, all of this is taking a lot of time and money. But most importantly she is paying a price in her motivation and belief in her work.

Author B has similarly never had an evaluation, not of the manuscript or of the outline. Indeed, Author B already has a publisher and an agent. But Author B is writing a Jewish story with a Jewish historical perspective. Author B is not using a Jewish agent or Jewish publisher and so far, has received zero comments on the Jewish historical aspects of the story. 

But something tells Author B that a pair of eyes in his niche market would be a good idea before the final submission--after all, this is the target audience. Author B pays for a developmental edit, just to be on the safe side after finding a developmental editor with a background in Jewish history. 

It turns out much of the Jewish history in the book is not so much inaccurate but insensitive. Certain scenes are intensely graphic and the target market for this audience would have a difficult time paging through them. Most of these scenes are in the first five chapters. A manuscript evaluation earlier in the work would have brought this to light at the beginning and now Author B would not be in such an intense rush to meet the publishers' deadline, not to mention the costs in time and money and the need to go back to page one, when the publisher's deadline was so close. 

Remember, the choice between manuscript evaluation, line editing, or developmental editing depends on the writer's specific needs, goals, and stage of the manuscript. Contact me if you think this might be the right service for you. 

Photo: Andrew Neel, Unsplash

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Sunday, 14 July 2024

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