Journey to a Polished Manuscript – November: Getting Help (RewriteItClub)

This year, RewriteItClub are doing a monthly series on writing a book, and I’m joining in with my adult political fantasy. To find out more about RewriteItClub’s series click here, or to see this month’s post, click here.

It’s NaNo! NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is when you attempt to write 50k words in one month. Being me, I am attempting to write two projects – 50k on my next solo adult project, and 10k on my cowritten YA project. England is now in a second lockdown, so hopefully having a project helps me to keep going.

The post this month talked about hiring professional editors, but not everyone has the money to do that. As a student, I fall into that category, so this month I wanted to talk about where else you can go to get help if you don’t have the money.

The first one is Critique Partners, or CPs (sometimes called alpha readers). These are fellow writers that you swap chapters with and give each other feedback. Every partnership is unique and will focus on different things. Some pairs might swap chapter by chapter, some in chunks or even whole book. The type of feedback will also vary, but is an absolute must! Other people can see what you the emotionally-connected author cannot, and it will help catch the major flaws. Plus, CPs who know your book well can help brainstorm ideas.

I have two CPs I work very closely with (one I am cowriting with), who I found in different ways. Sometimes there are #CPMatch (etc) events on twitter, other times you might find each other through online writing groups or forums. And don’t be discouraged if it takes a few times to find the people you click with. Plus you might not work together forever, just for a project or two.

It’s always good to try out your feedback styles first by swapping a chapter or two. I will give a very different sort of feedback from someone else, and the way I work best when it comes to swapping would not work for everyone.

Another group you can get feedback from are Beta Readers. They typically read either a large chunk or the whole book and give a more general feedback than CPs because they read more of the book in one go so can approach feedback more holistically. These people aren’t always writers – several of mine are just friends who hear me talking about my stories enough that they were interested!

Again, these are often found through writing groups or twitter (etc) events. A great way I found was just to approach writing friends and put out a general ask on twitter. If you’re not comfortable sending the whole book, trial it with the first act.

There are then the various mentorship programs throughout the year, like Author Mentor Match, PitchWars and RevPit. These are FAR from guaranteed places and you really need to do your research into them all to see if they’d suit you. There are pros and cons to all of them, and offer different sorts of help too.

I hope this helps you find ways of getting feedback for your writing!

Read the other posts in this series:


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