I read every novel carefully, twice, and my critique begins with a detailed reading. Writing is in part an unconscious process, and the writer can often be so close to their work, it can be very hard for them to have a clear sense of what the reader is experiencing. So the first hat I wear is the one of an astute and experienced reader, essentially telling you what’s on the page and giving you a clear sense, with evidence, of why I read it in this way.
Many of the writers I’ve worked with tell me this is one of the most surprising and enlightening aspects of the critique, in that it allows them to see more clearly the characters they’ve created and the book they’ve written, and to assess whether or not it aligns with their own sense of their novel.
This reading then establishes the context for my in-depth critique. There will be nothing “academic” in this critique. It will focus on the nuts and bolts of fiction. As a professional writer, I can talk from experience about craft, from the shape and development of your chapters to the overall structure of the book. It may be that you’re having issues with the depth or development of your characters, or in conveying their predicaments in the most efficient and compelling way. One of the most common issues is redundancy–too much repeated material and dead wood. The best fiction doesn’t waste a word, and every word, sentence, and paragraph must do a maximum of work. Point of view can also be an issue. Point of view is the means by which the writer mediates the relationship between their characters and their readers, so any issues with this choice or the execution of it can potentially alienate the reader. Perhaps the most common issue writers have is trying to control their work and its meaning too much–being too present. This is akin to a playwright constantly stepping onto the stage during a play to explain the play’s subtleties for fear the audience won’t get it.
Once you’ve read the critique, we will then have a Zoom consultation to answer any questions you may have.
You can then provide a revision of up to fifty pages, followed by a second Zoom meeting.
I will also provide you with a document on how to approach revision.
If you want to get a sense of my own writing, I would suggest reading my last novel, The Perfect Man.