Last month I hit two scary milestones – my baby turned 1 and started childcare, and my novel went out on its own for a manuscript assessment. The first day of childcare happened to coincide with me dropping my manuscript off so of course I began drawing obvious parallels, things like recognising that my novel has been with me for the last seven years, in my thoughts daily as I work on it, helping it grow so it can go off one day on its own, just like a child. It’s kept me awake at night, and some days I’ve felt like all I’ve done is wipe excrement off it.
Of course you can’t really compare a manuscript to a child but I was equally as nervous dropping off my baby to his carer’s as I was dropping my novel off to the assessors. But I think manuscript assessment is an important step for a few reasons:
- Writing is an insular activity. It’s important to share your work eventually, when the time’s right to make sure you are not heading down the wrong path with your editing and plot/character development.
- It’s important to select an assessor that is right for your work. I’ve selected Jill Blee from Eureka House, as she has a background in Historical Fiction, including the era and location that my novel is set in.
- I’ve done workshops will Jill before so I know that she will be blunt but honest. I want to know that I’m getting useful feedback, so that I can keep working on the novel to get it to its best stage.
- I provided Jill with a range of questions that I’ve been wondering about for a few years. Is this character relevant? Is this character clear? Does anyone even care about the plot other than me? I’ve discussed some of the questions with my writing group but none of the other writers have read my novel. It’s important to get feedback on those questions by someone who has dedicated time to consider your work.
Will I take on all of the feedback that Jill provides? Well…I guess only time will tell. Will I be drinking champagne or gin? Probably both.
Please let me know about your experiences of manuscript assessment and how it has worked well (or not) for you.