When I review a story, whether for a client or a peer, I’m always happy when the author points out their concerns.
“Is the voice consistent?” “I’m worried that my child narrator sounds too old.” “Does the nautical language throw you?” “Is the love scene too graphic?”
Although I have my own method of critiquing, I’m willing to address what concerns a writer. Recently, however, a client took this to a new level. He sent me a list of questions after I’d completed the edit. I was taken aback, I admit, until I read the questions. They’re good questions. I answered them, and then asked if I could share.
With my client’s permission, I am printing below a list of questions you might ask a professional editor, a beta reader, or anyone who critiques your work.
1. Is this story complex enough and interesting enough to be worthy of a novel length effort? If not, what, in your opinion, would make it so?
2. Did the mystery work for you? If not, why not?
3. As a reader, would you care enough about the characters and plot to continue reading if you were not doing an edit? What, in your opinion, can be done to make the story stronger, more intriguing?
4. Are the characters developed well enough? Are the characters credible, real enough, emotional enough? Are there characters you would like to have seen more fully developed?
5. Are the sub-plots engaging and well enough developed? What can make them stronger?
6. Was the ending appropriate? Was it what you expected? What ending would make the story stronger, more intriguing?
7. What did you expect to see in the story but didn’t? Does the writer fulfill his promise to the reader?
8. If a friend asked you about the book, what you liked, what you didn’t like and if you would recommend it, what would you tell them?
9. Was the writing professional? What would make it stronger?
10. Assuming your edit recommendations are followed, would this manuscript be ready for submission to prospective agents? What would make it stronger?
11. What three things would make this a better novel?
Don’t be afraid to share your concerns about your writing with your editor or trusted reader. You are on the same team, with the same goal–to make your story stronger.