Is My Manuscript Ready?
Welcome to the Writers’ Clearinghouse community! We’re glad you’re here, and hope you enjoy our first-ever blog post and the following series on mastering the craft of writing.
Writing is hard. Don’t get me wrong—anyone can do it (and everyone should, but that’s a different topic for a different time). But very few can craft a great novel without help. Even if you have a brilliant idea, it is a long journey from there to a polished manuscript. And that’s not a bad thing—even writing a bad draft is a monumental achievement. On so many levels, writing challenges who you are as a person. It requires you to mold and shape your world view in ways you never have before. It requires dedication to finish something that takes so long and promises so little. But the truly difficult (and frustrating) part comes after you finish and have to ask yourself, “Is this ready?”
Most often, especially after the first draft, the answer will be no. But what about after the second draft, or the third or fourth? How do you know when the answer is finally yes?
In my experience, this is the source of almost every author’s frustration (and reason that they never break through). I’m asked by authors everywhere I go if I have advice on how to answer this question. But there hasn’t ever been a good, succinct answer. I used to advise getting secondary opinions from a critique group. Some use beta readers. Others pay expensive editors. But the truth is that they likely don’t know what agents and editors are looking for in a finished manuscript, either.
And that got me thinking about another way to answer this one question that causes authors so much frustration. The solution was to break down a manuscript into its most basic parts and look at each of those parts individually to determine exactly where it stands.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be rolling out our first blog series, Manuscript Essentials, a series that will take you through each of the twenty different writing elements that our team has identified as critical to a publication-ready manuscript. From how to structure a plot all the way down to how to craft a sentence, this series will give you the tools you need to determine exactly where your manuscript stands and move along your path to publication with confidence.
Welcome once again. I hope you stay and grow with us. Check back weekly for the latest installments, where you’ll learn to master your craft with expert advice not only from our team of editors and agents, but also from guest professionals who’ve collaborated with us on this series. We hope you enjoy it.
Writers’ Clearinghouse empowers authors and agents by providing low-cost, at-a-glance evaluations of entire manuscripts that tell you exactly where your manuscript stands, its strengths and weaknesses, and what you can do to improve it.