professional critiquing services

A while back I did a post on Editing Your Novel, and one of the tactics that I talked about was sending the first chapter of my middle draft to be critiqued. I decided to use the N.C. Writer’s Network excellent critique service, because I am a member of NCWN.

I received the critique yesterday, and I am greatly heartened. I had problem areas such as putting too many issues for the reader in the first chapter. That had been one of my major concerns, so as I was re-reading the chapter, I starting looking for information that could be cut from the first chapter and placed in subsequent chapters. I found several plot lines and character introductions that could easily be shifted to another portion of the novel.

My OWW critique friend, Valerie, will love this part of the critique: I got dinged on setting again. I tend not to put enough description of the setting in my scenes. I tease people and tell them that if I was a playwright, my stage settings would consist of an empty chair and a stage. I want you to focus on my characters and their issues, not what I see as superficial information. However, I will be going back in and putting more description in the first chapter, especially about the city so my reader has a clear picture of the setting.

I over-used the following sentence construction with “there was/were,” something that is easily fixed now that I am aware of it. Would I have been aware of this problem without a professional critique? No.

Those were the major issues. I won’t bore you with the minor ones. My grammar issues weren’t major and that was an enormous relief.

So why was I heartened by this critique? I was told that readers would find my characters and plot compelling. I was told that the hook worked.

Does this mean I’m sending out invitations to the pre-publication party? No!

This means I need to buckle down and work. I need to make notes of the information that I plan to relocate and make sure that information is placed in the appropriate chapter. I need to examine every place where my editor changed my sentence construction and understand why. I need to look at every word change, every comma, and every semi-colon.

Was it worth the money?


I would recommend going with a critique service that you trust and always be sure to check Preditors & Editors before paying anyone to critique your work. I was informed and satisfied with both the reputation of the N.C. Writers’ Network and the gentleman who did my critique prior to sending my chapter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a little work to do, and when I have chapter one all spiffy and neat, I’ll post it for everyone to see.


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9 Responses to professional critiquing services

  1. kaykaybe says:

    What? No pre publication party? I’ll have to call Chuck E. Cheese back and cancel. Glad it was helpful. -Kelly

  2. cacklingscribe says:

    Really good to hear that, Teresa! That kind of encouragement is worth its weight in gold. I’ll make sure when I crit your stuff in future I look out for there-was/were 🙂


    • Teresa says:

      Thanks a lot, Peter! I’m coming around to crit your stuff soon. I don’t like critiquing other people’s work when my head’s fuzzy with cold meds, because I have such a hard time focusing. If I miss a chapter, I’ll be e-mailing you and you can send it to me. I don’t mind backtracking! 😉

  3. jenniferneri says:

    Great! Will you submit your full ms?

    • Teresa says:

      I really wish I could afford to submit my full, Jennifer! Although the editing fee was very reasonable, my funds are such that I don’t believe I will be able to submit the entire ms.

      What the edit did do was give me more confidence in the guidance I’ve been receiving from my critique group and my own editing skills. I think it’s a learning process, but I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll ever master completely.

  4. kaykaybe says:

    Teresa- are you allowed to post what you sent and the suggestions? Or is that bad form? I’d love to see exactly what you’re doing wrong:) Really, I’d love to see what editing nuances I’m missing. -Kelly

    • Teresa says:

      Hi, Kelly, I don’t think anybody would want to plough through thirty-one pages of that! What I would be willing to do is pick out a few of the common errors that I made and show you the edits. I don’t believe there would be much harm in that. I’ll try and do that this weekend.

  5. lawrenceez says:

    Sounds very good.. I’m still waiting my the report on my first novel from the editor I paid during the summer. It’s pretty expensive but worth it.

    Meanwhile, I’m doing huge amounts of restructing on my current novel…I have this habit of reading it through the eyes of a couple of pretend people, hearing their questions at the end of each chapter.

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