Are you writing a novel for young
With years of experience in writing for this market and
critiquing writers at conferences and workshops I am now offering a
critique service for novels aimed at middle grade and YA readers. I
will read your full manuscript—or partial (fee will vary with word
count). I will give you detailed feedback on the following
components of your story.
Concept: What initially catches the attention of an agent, publisher and
ultimately readers is the concept at the core of the plot. Is yours
compelling, original, intriguing? You know the concept that drives
your story, but I don't. Let me read your book and give it back to
you in a couple of sentences. If I can't do that your concept needs
clarifying—I can help with that too.
Opening: A book's opening is the door to a world the reader has never seen
before. Do you bring the reader into that world comfortably or make
them work to orient themselves; do you confuse them? Does your
story’s opening engage the reader and at the same time make honest
promises about what the story will deliver? Does it give the reader
a sense of what the larger story will be about?
Character Development: Are your
characters interesting and at the same time easy for a young reader
to identify with?
Plot Structure: The plot is
the skeleton that supports the entire work. No amount of good
writing will make up for a weak plot, but a robust plot can cover a
world of bad writing (sad but true). I will examine the plot arc of
your story and suggest ways to make it more effective.
Pace: Are you using a
balance of "scene" and "summary" to move the plot forward. Is the
pace too leisurely or rushed? Is it too uniform?
Conflict: What is the
central conflict in the story? How early is that conflict identified
for the reader? How does that central conflict create the story?
What changes occur in the course of the story (conflict requires
change) and is the resolution of the conflict sufficient and
satisfying? Are there ways to restructure the conflict to increase
Dialogue: I look at
everything from the naturalness of the dialogue to how dialogue tags
are used and the integration of business (the physical actions that
accompany dialogue which may, in fact, even contradict a character’s
Tone: Novels for young
readers must have an urgent almost claustrophobic tone. This is the
hardest thing to teach, but I can tell you whether or not you have
it, and make suggestions that will help. The Page: Young readers
want open-looking text which is created by frequent paragraphing,
liberal use of dialogue and the inclusion of short, blunt sentences.
Point of View: Novels for
young readers bring the reader in close. First person and limited
third are the preferred point of view choices for these novels.
Don't panic if you're writing in third person omniscient, but I can
tell you whether or not your choice is effective for this
Pitch–Readiness: How close
are you to having a manuscript that is ready for prime time? I don't
know how many hours you worked on your story or how many revisions
you have done, you do, and this knowledge can cloud your judgment.
"I've been working on this thing for years it must be ready!" Not
necessarily. I can give you an objective assessment.
Quick list of what to do to make it
better/more publishable: I will give you a brief summary
of the necessary changes, a to-do list that will make your rewrite
You the Writer: I will give
you a list of your strengths and weaknesses. It is helpful to know
where you stand as a writer, which things you do with ease and which
you need to work on.
Your Market: I can help you
identify your readership. When pitching an agent or publisher one of
the most important components is a clear target for your book. Who
is going to read this? "Everyone" is a very bad answer. Each book
appeals to a very particular group. You have to know who you are
writing for. Also, a large portion of the sales of these books is to
the school/library market. I can give you insights that will make
your book more appealing to these critical markets—and what will
keep you off their shelves forever.
Note: I write realistic
fiction and this is the genre I know best. I also critique novels
for adult readers and have written several myself, however middle
grade and YA fiction is the area in which I have most expertise.
Structural Editing Service:
I can also mark up your manuscript for rewriting, suggesting
specific changes in guiding you to a better story.
Interested? Please contact me by e-mail: