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Manuscript Assessment

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.

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4 comments on “Manuscript Assessment

  1. Heathermargaret
    March 23, 2015

    I’m sure the assessment feed back on your novel will be helpful, even feedback that means heaps of work or a re-write will stimulate, that’s my experience anyway. After holding a novel for so long sometimes it can feel like a relief to put it out in the world for a bit of an airing… Must say I admire your grit to be able to multi-skill so well, raising little ones, going back to study and gearing up for the next steps on your novel…well done Melissa!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. darren
    March 23, 2015

    Hi Melissa- I would very much like to read it- you could pencil me in as another person who can offer feedback- alternatively, I can wait until it’s published, and you can sign my first edition…

    Like

    • Melissa Watts
      March 27, 2015

      I would definitely love your feedback, I certainly value your opinion.

      Like

  3. deivamarina
    March 23, 2015

    I loved this piece and congratulate on these two milestones — manuscript assessment and daycare. My manuscript feedback gave me specific and tangible things I could work on which was really helpful as it had become a bit of a blur in my mind. I had missed some obvious things, like setting for example. Looking forward to more progress reports — from the home front and the writing desk!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 23, 2015 by in Historical Fiction, manuscript assessment, Novels, On Writing and tagged , , .

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