Every writer I know calls upon comrades—peers, mentors, friends, and spouses—to read and review. Successful writers are often insatiable workshoppers. (I know a fine poet who reads to her dog, just to get an extra set of ears and twitchy responses.) But even with consistent up-close readers, we all benefit from an occasional faraway voice, someone unfamiliar but invested—someone who’s detached but totally willing to help.
I’m willing to help. I consider myself a perpetual student of fiction. I’ve been studying, reading, and writing for years and still have consistent eureka moments. I have stories that finally work, that don’t quite work, that might…one fine morning… And so I understand the complex and sometimes wayward path to a finished manuscript. While every story has its own tale of origin and development, nearly everything I write goes through a range of steps (or eras, depending).
As a reader (and writer), I consistently ask two questions. If I know the answer to the first, I can begin working on the second:
- What do the characters yearn for or need?
- How can each scene fully render that yearning or need?
These questions and the issues they kick up compel most of my decision-making. If the main characters’ yearning (in whatever form) is palpable, the work is well underway. If each scene fully renders out that yearning, we’re into something artistic and engaging. From there, I ask two more elemental questions:
- Does the voice of the narrator keep us committed to the characters?
- Does the pace of the narration keep us committed to the characters?
Of course, there are more issues, countless concerns about plot, setting, syntax, narrator placement, tense, and even genre. But the above four questions get at the most crucial layers and dimensions. As a reader, I’ll apply these questions to your manuscript and see where I can help. I’ll offer scene-by-scene comments—my response to each development in the story. I’ll say what makes me hope, wonder, worry, and cheer. I’ll offer suggestions for intensifying and attenuating, calling forward and toning down. And I’ll always say—in my eyes—what the story is doing best.
|Novels/Collections (80–100K words)||$1,000|
|Shorter Novels/Collections (50–79K words)||$800|
|Novellas (20–49K words)||$600|
|Long Stories (10–19K words)||$400|
|Short Stories (5–10K words)||$300|
|Short-Short Stories (2–5K words)||$200|
|Flash (<2K words)||$100|