Need Help with Your Manuscript?

I work with writers on their manuscripts one-on-one, and also include a manuscript review as part of my workshops if requested.

I learned manuscript review from Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) founder Pat Schneider, and this is the wisdom I gleaned: 

When I read a manuscript I’m listening to a voice from another country — the country of the author’s “childhood, youth, lost loves, commitments, wounds, disappointments, ecstasies, achievements, intuitions, courage, cowardice, sorrows, sufferings, and imaginings.” When someone trusts me enough to pass judgment on his or her expression of a vision, he or she is naked before me. And what I have to give in response is my own nakedness — my own raw, honest, human response —“this is what it means to me; this is what I hear; this is where I was confused.” I recognize and acknowledge openly the fact that every opinion I entertain is subjective, limited by my own taste, age, and experience. 

So I attempt to put aside fantasies of superiority, to respond as just one more life, assuming only the validity of my own response as one reader’s reaction. “Consider the source,” Pat says. Then I can freely offer my responses—“the hurrah and the but …. mixed up together, and balanced.” 

If a manuscript review is requested as part of my workshop, I give everyone instructions: number of pages, prose double-spaced, number of poems, frequency of offering work for group discussion. Then I talk with the group, telling them, most importantly, that the most helpful responses are human ones: “I love this” or “I’m confused here,” and so on. Every writer wants to know how the piece will feel to the reader who picks it up off a coffee table.

To learn more about a manuscript review,

“Joanne is a terrific manuscript “assistant.” She has reviewed my poems over many years with a keen eye, able to go to the heart of each poem. Her thoroughness and insight in assisting me with my short story were impressive, helping me to see things I could not see as the writer. I highly recommend her editorial services.”

C. C.