So you’ve been writing and writing, and at this point, you want to throw your manuscript – or maybe even your entire laptop – across the room. You can’t stand to look at it anymore. Is it even any good? Who knows! You’re alone in an echo chamber where you can’t even tell if it all hangs together. This is often where writers click save and then quit.
But I have a better idea: send that manuscript to me.
Every single writer, regardless of experience or degree of talent, needs professional input, aka feedback and a reality check. And every manuscript, without exception, needs a good editor. There’s only so far you can take your book on your own before you need someone else’s eyes on it. And that outside feedback can make all the difference in the home stretch before final edit, shopping the manuscript for an agent, or rewrite.
Here’s what I find when I review manuscripts that the writer themselves often can’t catch:
- Repeated words, phases, and even whole paragraphs
- “Filler” language like “so here’s the thing,” “the bottom line is,” or “I’m not gonna lie”
- Errors in time, space, or the laws of physics: things that can’t realistically happen as described
- Easy, breezy social media speak that will date the book badly in as little as a year
- Structural issues: there’s stuff that’s missing – or stuff that needs to come out. Maybe entire chapters are in the wrong order. Perhaps a core theme has not been consistently addressed.
Are you an idiot for missing these things? No, absolutely not! An editor’s job is to stand objectively outside, seeing the whole forest for what it is and guiding the writer through to a clearing. Writers simply can’t get enough distance from their manuscripts to see the big picture. It’s like trying to make your way through the woods with your face mashed against just one tree.
So you could spend this 4th quarter doggedly writing and rewriting – or you could breathe a sigh of relief and get your manuscript off your plate for a few weeks. Catch up with the rest of your life while I read, review, and respond with both broad and specific editorial feedback.
When you’re ready, you’ll be able to resume and tidy up what’s left with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Maybe even fall in love with your book all over again.