The first full critique of the manuscript has been sent to me. It contains lots of positives, which is good for my ego, but more importantly, it highlights areas where the story can be improved. Producing a critique of a full novel is a skill in it’s own right. It is incredibly difficult to find people who have the skill, the time, and the willingness to tear your manuscript apart for your. I have been incredibly lucky in this respect – through an online writer’s site (Writers in Touch) I was able to buddy up with Dave who is writing a children’s fantasy novel.
Most writer’s groups are full of poets, short story writer’s, and six-chapter novelists who forever rework the first six chapters of their book. Constructing a novel in it’s entirety is an different skill. Only another novelist can really understand the difficulties involved. Dave is serious about being a novelist. We have been exchanging three chapters at a time for over a year now – it’s the most useful feedback I have every had, and together with what I have learned from critiquing his book, has certainly help refine the novel into it’s current form.
A colleague at work suggested writing to the heads of English at a local school, getting a class to read and critique the manuscript and offering book tokens for the top three reviews. It would cost me £180 to run off 30 book from Lulu.com, so not a bad investment for 30 reviews from the target audience. I believe G.P.Taylor did something similar with his first novel. I might just give it a go.