"I was feeling pretty low before Brenda Ferber critiqued my novel. While I was thrilled to have completed the first draft of my manuscript, I knew there were gaps and weak spots, and I felt too close to the story to know how to fix things. For someone like me, who lives for the writing and hates the revising, the concept of making final edits seemed too daunting.
Then Brenda offered to do a manuscript critique. I'd never done one before. In fact, I'd never had another writer read my entire story, let alone an award-winning author like Brenda. I was nervous.
Brenda was professional, courteous and everything I could have hoped for when I handed my "baby" over. She let me know when she was finished with the critique and we arranged a meeting to go over her comments.
Brenda went through my entire novel and marked up every scene with a combination of positive, encouraging comments, thoughtful questions I'd never considered, and suggestions and ideas for improvement. She caught discrepancies I'd never noticed, pointed out strong scenes, and highlighted areas that slowed the momentum down.
In addition, Brenda provided a comprehensive report, summarizing her impression of the manuscript. This document, along with Brenda's hour-long consultation, gave me a much-needed boost to push my manuscript to be the very best it can be. What I found most helpful in Brenda's report was actually reading her impressions of the book's themes, characters, messages and scenes. Brenda explained the importance of my main character's inner and outer quests and pointed to the places in my manuscript where these quests get lost; most helpful were her ideas to uncover those messages and bring them into clear focus.
Brenda's strengths? She's offers both perspective and in depth advice. She "gets" children's writing. She's quick to assimilate, assesses the highlights and weaknesses knowledgeably, and clearly articulates strategies to help make a novel shine its brightest.
I'd highly recommend Brenda for a manuscript consultation to any writers who understand that writing is a process...a marathon...and a craft worth honing. Brenda's thoughtful explanations and empathetic manner help make it easier to hear about the less than perfect parts, and her enthusiasm and encouragement about the parts that work are simply invaluable. Make no mistake...she'll give it to you straight. She's organized and effective, and you'll leave your meeting having a plan of action...something I was desperately searching for.
One last note: for anyone who, like me, gulps hard at the thought of paying someone to critique your work, let me just say, I understand your concern. After all, my critique group had read each of my chapters in chunks...how much different could this be? Well, it's night and day different. It's like having one of your actual readers sitting down and taking it all in, asking the right questions, pointing out the highs and lows, and giving you the tools and framework to make your masterpiece the very best it can be. Brenda's critique was worth every penny."