The Critique Process

Before I published my first book, I decided that I wanted to be seen as a professional that produced top quality work. I want my readers to trust me. I want them to see my books and think, “Oh yeah, Melissa Pearl, she writes good stuff.”

In order to get that kind of response, I need help from those around me. I am a big believer in constructive feedback. For me, it’s the best way to ensure that I produce quality work for my readers.

Over the past couple of years, I have refined my process. I thought I’d share my current process in case any of you would find it helpful πŸ™‚

Okay, so after my planning and writing, I carefully go through the manuscript, making sure I’m as happy with it as I can be. This usually means at least two run throughs – one to add in things I’ve thought of while writing the first draft. The second is a full read through where I tweak and refine the text.

Once that’s done, I send it off to my critique partners. I have about six. They are all authors, so understand the craft. They are also 100% honest, which is a must when it comes to critique partners. I ask them to look at story structure, character development and plot holes. They tell me what they liked, didn’t understand and what they thought didn’t work.

I combine all their notes, highlighting the parts I will definitely change and mulling over the question marks. I then attack my manuscript again – adding, stripping away, refining some more. I find this the hardest edit to tackle, especially if it means big structural changes or adjusted storylines that end up running through the entire story.

After that, I send it to my copy editor. She does a thorough read through, pulling apart my language, highlighting repetition, weak sentences or paragraphs that didn’t make sense. She corrects all my outright mistakes and makes a plethora of suggestions on how the writing can be improved.

This is my favourite edit to run through. It’s like putting a glossy coat on my novel – making it shine for my audience. I carefully go through all her notes. She uses Track Changes, which I find really helpful. Once I’ve finished with those, I do another read through.

Finally happy with how it reads, I send it off to a proof-reader. I need a fresh set of eyes to check any changes I’ve made from my editor’s suggestions.

After I hear back from her, I make any changes (again, using Track Changes) then put the book on my Kindle. I read the book on my Kindle and make any final changes (these are very minimal). I’m usually down to tweaking words at this stage, but it always surprises me what I notice on a Kindle that I don’t notice on a computer screen.

Once that is finished, I’m done. I will not let myself read the book again. There comes a point, where I have to let my manuscript go. I grit my teeth and throw it out to the masses, hoping that all my hard work and the help of the awesome people around me will pay off. So far, it has πŸ™‚

You know that saying, “It takes a village to raise a baby?” Yeah, well the same applies to a novel. I encourage every writer to be open to criticism. I know it can sting, but if the advice is coming from a trusted source, then it’s worth listening to.

Author: Melissa Pearl

Melissa Pearl is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of multiple novels spanning a variety of genres, from YA fantasy and paranormal to romantic suspense, including award-winning novel, BETWIXT. For more on Melissa, visit her blog or her Amazon author page.

15 thoughts on “The Critique Process”

  1. Great post, Melissa! A critique group is invaluable. Especially ones who have been with you for years and can call you on your mistakes, all with a big grin (oh, wait–maybe that’s the wine… πŸ™‚ )

  2. I’m in that “hardest edit” stage (again). I hope that I’ll be able to throw it out to the masses and move on to the next thing when the time comes; I’m the kind of person who could tinker with a manuscript forever and still not be satisfied.

    Great advice, thank you!

  3. I can so relate to this “it always surprises me what I notice on a Kindle that I don’t notice on a computer screen.” Calibre is my best friend. πŸ™‚

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