With all the books and classes out there about how to write fiction, you'd think knocking out a bestselling novel would be easy.
The problem with books is the author isn't there to answer your questions or clarify things you don't immediately grasp. Some books even contradict each other. And they never go into enough detail.
Courses only last a few weeks and many times are taught by educators, not industry-savvy pros. Instructor bias or dislike for a particular genre has derailed many a hopeful author. Barbara is comfortable with all genres.
Working with a professional editor/analyst is the best way to fill in those gaps. While Barbara specializes in novel-length fiction, she will consider working with nonfiction writers on a case-by-case basis.
Analysis: As a fiction analyst, Barbara reads, analyzes and evaluates the entire manuscript, paying attention to the whole story's structure and flow, whether the plot is delivering on all the set ups the writer has planted, or if it's delivering things that were never set up, whether the writer has used appropriate technique, and what, if anything, is working against the story. She will also examine the manuscript's use of a long list of fiction elements, from character and plot to pace, sentence flow, continuity, theme, pace, depth, believability, immediacy and the "something extra" to make it stand out (such as Harris's Memory Palace in Hannibal, an exotic locale, a deep sincerity).
The most difficult thing to teach a writer is how to make a story come alive for the reader. Oftentimes, the writer just has too much of it in her/his own head, and although S/HE knows all the reasonings and motivations and connections, s/he is incapable of seeing that too little of that is actually IN the story in a way the reader can absorb it, too. Barbara will point out places where it's obvious to her that this is the case, and she'll suggest how the writer can bring that detail out of her/his head and into the story.
People like information, but they prefer to have novels present it to them in an indirect and riveting way. Barbara will examine whether the manuscript accomplishes this as well. In addition, Barbara will examine word usage, phrasing and overall writing technique with regard to its appropriateness for the story. If editing is needed, Barbara will sample edit up to 10 pages to give the writer the idea of where problems lie.
Then Barbara will provide a full report containing her recommendations for revising the manuscript to make everything work the best possible way. She will explain what is working well in the story as well as what is not. Her reports average 17 to 25 pages in length.
Development: Knowing what to change and actually fixing the problems are two entirely different things, as many writers find out. First-time writers, even those working on their second and third novel manuscripts, have difficulty seeing if their words come across to the reader in the same way they're intended. Barbara will help you, page by page, to identify weaknesses and implement the needed improvements to your novel. Development work also includes full editing and ongoing analysis.
Editing: What an editor changes and modifies depends on the editor. Some like to practically rewrite a manuscript, putting their own stamp on it strongly, which often upsets writers very much. Others, like Barbara, work to protect the writer's voice and style and just make minor adjustments or suggestions where problems are found. Pretty much all editors correct grammar and punctuation mistakes, what's called "line editing." Barbara does not rewrite manuscripts; that is left up to the author, whom she will gladly guide. Substantive editing, also known as developmental editing, involves more in-depth work on a piece to bring it up to publishable quality. Barbara works with the author line by line to improve the author's writing technique, eliminate repetitive wording, add immediacy, repair story problems and more (see Development).
Instruction: Barbara's courses contain emailed lessons and exercises designed to expose writing students to specific fiction elements and techniques. When courses are in session, all students are invited to join Barbara for a weekly half-hour online chat so she can answer any questions students might have and explain principles in more detail.
Mentoring: In addition to the above services, Barbara can spend time with individual writers in one-on-one telephone sessions or a pre-arranged series of email exchanges to coach them beyond the instructional level as they rework their novels or get stuck at various story junctions. Oftentimes, a half-hour session will bring a writer enough insight to solve the current story or technique problem. Mentoring is automatically included at no extra charge during the analysis and editing phases of a manuscript.
Sample evaluation: Writers who would like to sample Barbara's analysis and editing services can take advantage of this introductory opportunity. Barbara will review 30 pages of the writer's novel and provide her full range of services for the sample fee.
Payment: Services are invoiced by email through PayPal and will begin as soon as the invoice is paid. You do not have to join PayPal to pay the invoice. When the emailed invoice arrives, just click on the PayPal Payment button, log in to the secure payment page, review the invoice to make sure the amount is correct, and pay with credit card or, if you're a member, PayPal account funds. You also may request a mailed hard copy invoice and pay by check or money order; services will begin when the check has cleared. (*Members of Phenomenal Women of the Web should email Barbara for special reduced pricing.)
**Reduced Fee/Commission Option: In some cases, when a writer has limited funds, Barbara will adjust her fees in exchange for a small commission to be paid upon publication. (*Members of Phenomenal Women of the Web should email Barbara for special reduced pricing.)
Special Note: Barbara does not like or use the term "critique." She prefers to analyze and evaluate, and she looks forward to working with all writers. Barbara also is not an agent, although she is happy to provide a reference for worthy novels being submitted to agencies, along with query letter assistance.