Why a Manuscript Evaluation Report Might Be the Editorial Service You Need

With so many editorial services available, how do you know which is the best for you? Let’s take a look at what it would mean to have a manuscript evaluation report done and why this could be the right service for you.

A manuscript evaluation report is the best way to learn if your story and characters are doing what they should before you invest a lot of money into editing. If you’re a new writer or a writer without a solid critique group, I would suggest going with this service rather than jumping into editing. With a manuscript evaluation report, you’ll learn what is and isn’t working in your story, so you’ll know where you have to revise and what you need to cut or rewrite. This means you’ll be able to provide your editor with a cleaner copy, which translates into you walking away with a stronger manuscript.

Why shouldn’t you send a first draft or rough draft to your editor (me) and skip the manuscript evaluation report? It’s simple. If your manuscript isn’t ready for editing, you’ll end up with rewrite recommendations instead of revision suggestions. In other words, whatever you rewrite wouldn’t have been edited, so you’ll need to have the manuscript edited a second time or risk having inconsistencies with style, pacing, character development, and more.

Here are some of the things I’ll look at when I evaluate your manuscript:

Overall story: Does the story work? Is the plot interesting? Is there a story goal? Is the goal big enough to chase throughout the novel? Is there enough conflict? Do we know what’s at stake? Are there plot holes?

Beginning: Does the story start at the right place? Does the beginning hook the reader? Is there an info or backstory dump? Is the reader engaged?

Backstory/info dumps: Are there backstory or information dumps throughout the novel? Should the information be cut or layered into the story?

Dialogue: Is the dialogue stilted? Does the dialogue feel realistic or fluffy? Is the dialogue used to inform the reader of something the characters already know? Does the dialogue suit the character?

Pacing: Is the pacing too slow or too fast? Do details need to be added or cut to correct this?

GMCs: Are the protagonist’s goals, motivations, and conflicts clear throughout? Are they strong enough? Can the conflict be resolved with a conversation?

Emotions and deep POV: Does the author dig deep enough into the POV (point of view) character’s POV? Are emotions named or shown? Do we know how a character is feeling and/or what he’s thinking? Can we feel what he’s feeling and experience the story through his eyes?

Show, don’t tell: While it’s sometimes okay to tell something in a story, most of the time, things should be shown. Is “show, don’t tell” followed in the manuscript?

Character development: Are the main characters three-dimensional? Does the protagonist start off flawed and grow by the end of the story? Are her GMCs clear? Is the character consistent? Are her actions and reactions logical? Is she likeable?

Conflict: Is there conflict in every scene? Is the story conflict strong enough to sustain a whole novel?

The stakes: Do we know what’s at stake? Do the stakes keep rising?

Love connection (if applicable): Does the hero and heroine’s first meet work? Do we want them to get together? Do we feel their sexual tension? Does the sex scene (if applicable) leave us wanting more, or does it satisfy us? Do we believe these characters are in love? Are we happy for them in the end?

Middle: Does the middle sag? Or does it keep moving and make us wanting for more? Are the scene goals still obvious? Is conflict still present in every scene?

Realism/logic: Are the plot points realistic? Are the character’s actions and reactions logical? Or do certain elements feel contrived?

POV slip: Do we stay grounded in the POV character’s POV? Or does the author slip in and out of his POV?

Talking heads: Can we visualize the scenes as characters are having a conversation? Or are we simply seeing talking heads without action, setting, reaction, or feeling?

Black moment: Is the black moment obvious? Is it strong enough? Is it placed close to the ending?

Conflict resolution: Is the conflict resolved in a logical and satisfying way? Did the protagonist have to work for this resolution? Has he earned it?

Ending: Does the ending satisfy the reader? Is everything resolved (unless intentionally left open to continue the series)? Is the ending rushed? Does the ending go on too long?

Voice: Is the author’s voice present? Does it stay consistent throughout the novel?

World building (if applicable): Is the world clear? Are there too many setting details and descriptions, which bog down the pace?

Strengths: What are the author’s and/or the manuscript’s strengths?

When you order a manuscript evaluation report, I’ll peruse your manuscript, taking notes along the way based off common issues, like the ones mentioned above. I’ll write a report based on what I feel is or isn’t working in your story. This is a general report, similar to what you might receive from an agent who gave you feedback before signing you on as a client, but I’ll also offer suggestions on how to improve and/or how to fix the issues.

I can’t stress this enough. It’s best to get the story right before you jump into editing. What if something in your plot doesn’t work and requires a major rewrite? Wouldn’t you prefer to fix the issue before you have the work edited to ensure the strongest, most polished copy?

For a brief sample report, go here: http://labelleseditorialservices.com/editorial-services-2/manuscript-evaluation-report/. Rates are here: http://labelleseditorialservices.com/rates/.

Lynnette Labelle
2015 and 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist
2015 Molly Winner
2015 and 2016 Pitch Wars Mentor

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