What is a manuscript assessment?
A manuscript assessment is a careful, detailed critique covering all aspects of your manuscript and presented as a comprehensive report.
The Manuscript Assessment Report outlines what works and what does not work within your writing, and offers suggestions on how you might move forward to further develop and refine your manuscript.
When A Worded Life provide your manuscript assessment, you also receive a sample edit of a small section of your manuscript.
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~Terry Pratchett
What’s in the Manuscript Assessment Report?
The Manuscript Assessment Report discusses aspects of writing, story craft and structure that are specific to your manuscript.
Your Manuscript Assessment Report begins with a synopsis and description of the work to indicate how the assessor has understood your story and how they have read it according to its major themes. Following this is a detailed analysis of the key issues within the work which may prevent it being picked up by a publisher or agent. This includes observations about such elements as voice, characterisation, plot, pace, structure, language, as well as an analysis of the work’s position within the marketplace.
The Manuscript Assessment Report is designed to help you shape your writing into the best manuscript possible before you send it out into the world.
“I don’t write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn’t work, or what simply is not alive.” ~Susan Sontag
The Manuscript Assessment Report focuses on:
- Editing issues – the most common issues as identified in the sample edit.
- Writing skills – such aspects as grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and how to use these to strengthen atmosphere, pace and tension; asking questions such as: is the writing well-crafted, clear and elegant?
- Dialogue – close analysis of dialogue to assess whether or not the dialogue convincing, sustained and suitable to characters
- Characters – assessing whether your characters are interesting and credible; do they evolve through the book, are their actions and emotions fitting and natural; do they have a compelling backstory?
- Plot – do the twists and turns capture and hold the reader’s attention; are sufficient and relevant subplots woven effectively throughout?
- Flow – the sequence and chronology of events, as well as any weakness and/or holes
- Scenes – are the scenes effective; is the structure of each scene logical; is there are clear and strong sense of place/setting?
- Impact – is there a compelling opening and strong conclusion; does the writing grab and hold the reader’s attention?
- Narrative techniques and literary devices – looking at such aspects as style, imagery, point of view, structure and voice; are these elements incorporated successfully?
- Questions – any questions that arise for the assessor are included and, wherever possible, solutions to resolve any potential grey areas in your manuscript are suggested.
- Targeting – publishing is a very competitive business and sales are a major consideration for publishers. A manuscript must have market potential to be considered for publication. Publishers/Agents want to know that your manuscript is not only readable, but sellable to an identifiable audience. Does your manuscript have an identified audience, is the writing style, content and vocabulary aimed concisely at that identified audience?
- Marketability – is there broad appeal in the current market; how does your manuscript compare to other books; how is it positioned in the marketplace; is it “new” or does it feel familiar?
Who needs a manuscript assessment?
All writers want their manuscripts to be published and successful, and to achieve this end, they want to present only their finest writing. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will secure a publishing deal, no matter how many times you revise your draft, but receiving feedback is a vital step in developing a manuscript and the insights gained along the way will help you to improve your craft…and this can only increase your chance of success.
A manuscript assessment provides you with an impartial, professional opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of your writing, highlighting specific areas you can focus on during your revision process.
“The wrestle with material isn’t about subduing; it is about making a third thing that didn’t exist before. The raw material is there; the author was there; but the relationship that happens between maker and material allows the finished piece to be what it is.” ~Jeanette Winterson
After receiving your manuscript assessment report
Only you can write your book, and, at the end of the day, there is no guarantee that you will be published. After receiving your Manuscript Assessment Report, you have the information needed to further develop and refine your novel.
They say a book is not written, but is rewritten, revised and edited – this is where your work begins!
“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.” ~Stephen King
Authors imagine, write, revise, rewrite…
“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” ~Michael Crichton
“…I rewrite it until it works, then begin again with the brainstorm—write—rewrite cycle.” ~Laini Taylor
“Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” ~Roald Dahl
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” ~Stephen King
“The Rewriting stage is crucial. I’ve done up to twelve drafts of a novel, and when my books are 100,000 words plus, just re-reading each draft is a substantial undertaking. With each rewrite, I’m simply trying to make the book better, better characters, more interesting story, more accurate and engaging prose. Each time, it’s an inch by inch process. Then I repeat it.” ~Michael Pryor
“More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting.” ~ John Irving
“In the end it was just persistence, sheer bloody mindedness. It took months. I had to unpick lots of what I’d written and take a different route to the ending.” ~J.K. Rowling
“And when I say “writing”–O believe me, it is rewriting that I have chiefly in mind.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
“It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers.” ~E.B. White
“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” ~Larry L. King