The free website to help new writers to develop, and to help talented writers get noticed and published Books
   
Bloomsbury / Random House / Orion Critiques Latest Critiques << Return To Main Site

 Welcome to the YouWriteOn Forum

**News Random House & Orion Editors to continue free reviews of YouWriteOn Top Ten Writer  - publishers of many of the world's bestselling authors 

YouWriteOn Authors'  Congratulations to our many authors achieving sales and signings successes through  Waterstones, Amazon and others! 

YouWriteOn Message Board > The YouWriteOn Forum > The Professional Critiques Forum Help Search Recent Posts
Bloomsbury / Random House / Orion Critiques Latest Critiques
Page 1 Last : 2 > Start New Topic Reply To Topic
ProfessionalCritique
 31 May 2014, 13:41 #180008 Reply To Post
Each month on YouWriteOn.com editors from Random House, Bloomsbury and Orion, provide an indepth critique of up to three highly rated Top Ten novel openings from budding authors, and provide mini-reviews for the rest of the top ten youwriteon stories. Random House, Bloomsbury and Orion publish authors such as Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett and JK Rowling.
ProfessionalCritique
 31 May 2014, 13:42 #180009 Reply To Post
Editor Review of l THE DOORS OF HEAVEN AND HELL


Dear Fred Hebbert

Congratulations on being selected for a professional critique by your writing peers. I really enjoyed reading these early pages of your historical adventure novel THE DOORS OF HEAVEN AND HELL. I thought your writing had an ease and confidence to it that instantly pulls the reader into your story. I thought these opening chapters were well written, but did think they needed more intrigue and drama to really hook the reader at this crucial early juncture in the narrative. What I hope these editorial notes will do is provide you with some useful pointers as to how you can hone and develop the existing chapters, as well as give guidance on what to pay attention to as the novel progresses.


Structure:

Structure is the backbone of any novel. It helps to provide shape, focus and drive to the narrative. If your story isn’t sound in structure, the very foundations of your novel may become compromised. From what I have read, it seems your narrative will follow a largely linear direction in terms of chronology, and will be told in entirely the POV (point of view) of Emily, presented either as the scene unfolds, or reported in her private diary entries. This variation in how your structure your story will help provide structure and interest to your narrative, and hopefully help ensure the reader doesn’t tire of the story.


Plot:

The novel follows Emily’s main quest to locate her brother, but also her more intimate one, involving her personal journey, and how she evolves during the time she spends on the ship. There are obviously sub-plots, involving her disagreements with some of the other seamen, and also her growing attraction to Captain Vincent.

I think more could be made of how Emily is wanted for murder, and more on her past. It was hard to gauge from the synopsis alone, but I assume this would be explored more as the novel continues? As I think it’s important the reader has a clearer sense of what Emily is running from, and the kind of life she has come from, and how this has made her the person she is.

This is titled as ‘Part I’, so I wondered whether there was an intended sequel, or perhaps whether this formed part of a trilogy or even longer historical series. I think this needs to be made clear in your synopsis.


Characterisation:

I thought Emily was very well drawn in these pages. She a strong heroine who can ably carry the weight of the narrative, and she is also conflicted and intriguing, given that she has a dark past and is having to hide her true self from all those around her, in more ways than one. This sets up a great sense of tension, as she is fearful of being discovered, and of what may happen if she is.

I liked the camaraderie between the men, and the simmering politics at play, but I felt like this wasn’t always fully capitalised on in terms of drama. Often with historical novels, writers get hung up on how a character speaks, and whether something is historically accurate, rather than honing in on the drama of a scene and dropping the reader right into the action. It is much more important to really get under the skin of your characters, and make them feel individual and alive to your reader. And you haven’t quite achieved that in these early pages. There is a little too much stiltedness in how some of the characters interact.

There is a lot of dramatic and romantic potential in the scenes between Emily and Captain Vincent, and it is this that will fuel much of the narrative early on. But it’s important that the other character relationships carry as much weight and drama, and are not overshadowed by this subplot.


Setting:

Setting is of course only the backdrop to a story, but it can be a character in its own right too, helping build atmosphere and even influence the novel’s tone. And it is especially important in historical fiction as it is a key facet in helping to bring to life a long vanished world. You have avoided the common pitfall of many historical writers that tend to insert wieldy descriptive prose into their narratives. Instead you weave through concise historical details that don’t weigh down a scene and really place the reader in Emily’s world.


Tone:

Tone is one of the hardest elements of a narrative to master, but also one of the most important. If your tone is off-pitch, it won’t ring true with your reader, and so will compromise their engagement with your story. I did think there could be a greater sense of tension and intrigue in these early pages, as it is these early chapters that are the biggest test in terms of whether you hook a potential reader and compel them to read on.


Genre/Market:

You categorise this as historical action adventure. As I’m sure you’re aware, the historical area of the market is incredibly competitive and also very saturated, so a new book really needs to be something fresh and brilliantly told if it is to stand out in a very crowded arena. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to read voraciously, particularly in the area in which you wish to write. The first step in becoming a good writer is being a good reader. Read analytically, assessing what you think works and doesn’t work in a novel, and how a writer achieves key elements like pace, intrigue and maintains drama. This in turn will help hone your own writing skills, as you’ll acquire an intuitive sense of what does and doesn’t work in your own storytelling.


Conclusion:

I hope these notes have been helpful to you. As I have already said, I think these early pages mark a promising start but there is still a lot of room for development. As well as reading as widely as possible in the area in which you wish to write, have you considered joining a creative writing group? Receiving regular feedback from writing peers can be an invaluable way to sharpen your writing skills.

I wish you the best of luck in your rewrites, and hope you continue to enjoy writing.


Best wishes

Natalie Braine, Editor
ProfessionalCritique
 31 May 2014, 13:45 #180010 Reply To Post
Professional mini critique for Rough Sleeper by Ian Harvey-Brown

Congratulations on being well rated by your writing peers at YouWriteOn. I enjoyed reading these early pages of your thriller novel. The opening chapter is great, with a really strong commercial hook. The second chapter is also incredibly tense. There is an uneasy feeling as soon as Joe receives the key. I did think you could draw this scene out a bit more, when he arrives at the house, and really mine the suspense of what he is about to discover.

But the following scene, from when Joe is taken, suddenly veers off into unexpected territory, making the story feel like it is a different book entirely. I think there needs to be more of a sense early on of the dystopian place England has become, and darker hints of the unrest and simmering violence that lays there.

You quickly align the reader with Joe, so that they view the world through his eyes. I liked how you played with tone. It is intimate, informal and conversational, which undercuts the drama and darkness of the unfolding scene. But make sure it doesn’t undermine the darkness and tension, as I did feel that the sarcasm felt misplaced at times.

Also, try to avoid stating the obvious, with lines such as: ‘The bloodstains will lead the police straight to me’. Allow the reader to arrive at their own conclusions without you joining up all the dots for them. Remember that less is often more. But then you also have a habit of Joe jumping to conclusions and not really explaining how he arrives at them. Such as: ‘Once they have the sim card, me and the dog are dead.’ How does he know that?

Lastly, I assume your synopsis is an old version, as it has a different title and the character names are different? So perhaps this needs updating to avoid reader confusion?


Professional mini critique for Rose by Kate A Hardy

Congratulations on being well rated by your writing peers at YouWriteOn. I enjoyed reading your short story, but felt it was a little meandering and uncertain of itself. Even for a short story, it feels very slight and underweight in both its focus and its delivery. Most of the narrative is concerned with Harry circling round the same idea – whether to contact his old love, Rose. And it is only at the very end, when the dog dies, that Harry finally takes the plunge and flies over to see her.

In short, the story feels underwhelming. The reader doesn’t really get a sense of what Rose meant to Harry, or of their past relationship. Too much of the narrative is dedicated to the rambling conversations of the other villagers. Your story needs to have more drive and focus, if you are to really pull the reader into your fictional world.



Professional mini critique for Ambush in Sa’adaon by Alan D Harris

Congratulations on being well rated by your writing peers at YouWriteOn. I enjoyed reading these early pages of your crime thriller novel but thought they could benefit from further work. I found the opening lacked focus and drama. You play with the reader’s perceptions, with the opening feeling like an action war story, only for it then to be revealed that it is a staged film production. I also found the character dialogue exchanges could be sharper and more involving.

In short, my concern is that your novel would only appeal to a very small readership. This was an unusual book that seems devoid of the usual ingredients that create a compelling thriller, such as suspense, tension and intrigue. It also lacks a tangible commercial hook, and at present, your characters don’t feel strong enough to carry the weight of the narrative.

Editor Natalie Braine
ProfessionalCritique
 31 May 2014, 13:46 #180011 Reply To Post
Editor Review of SEA OF STONES


Dear Lin Forrester

Congratulations on being selected for a professional critique by your writing peers. I enjoyed reading these early pages of your crime mystery novel SEA OF STONES and thought your writing had an ease and confidence to it. I thought that these opening chapters were well written and engaging, but I did think they needed more intrigue and tension to really hook the reader. What I hope these editorial notes will do is provide you with some useful pointers as to how you can hone and develop the existing chapters, as well as give guidance on what to pay attention to as the novel progresses.


Structure:

Structure is the backbone of any novel. It helps to provide shape, focus and drive to the narrative. If your story isn’t sound in structure, the very foundations of your novel may become compromised. From reading these early pages, it seems like your narrative will be linear in its chronology, and largely told from the POV (point of view) of DI Mille Rose. The first scene, which acts as your prologue, is shown from the POV of Roxxi, but she isn’t mentioned again in your synopsis, so I assume no further POVs from her will be featured? And will POVs from Faye also be featured later on, as she becomes a more central figure?

Writers often overlook how they structure their narrative, but it’s the foundations of a good story. It’s always a good exercise your storyboard your novel, either scene by scene or chapter by chapter, so you can more clearly see the shape of your narrative, and the direction it takes. And in that way, it’s easier to hone in on areas that are weaker, perhaps because they lose focus or momentum.


Plot:

For a crime mystery novel, I thought your opening scene was rather weak. There’s intrigue surrounding the identity of the hooded woman, but that is the only sense of mystery in your opening. There needs to be a greater sense of tension and menace if you are to hook the reader at this crucial early juncture in your story.

Likewise, while the first chapter ably sets the scenes and introduces the main characters, I also felt it was somewhat underwhelming as a first chapter. There doesn’t seem to be enough intrigue to compel the reader to keep turning the pages. All the reader knows is that a jewellery store was robbed. There is nothing overly suspicious or sinister about this crime. I think there needs to be a more heightened sense of mystery and suspense if you are to really pull the reader into your story.

And from reading your synopsis, I was again concerned that your narrative lacks the drama, suspense and mystery to really propel your story along. It seems that Millie chooses to ignore key clues, and so it is her failing as a DI that causes the story to culminate in the way that it does. It’s also important that the ending doesn’t feel too overblown and melodramatic, especially after what seems to be quite a slow-burning build-up.


Characterisation:

I thought this was the strongest element of your narrative. You very quickly and vividly get to the heart of who DI Millie Rose is as a character. You instantly align the reader with her, so they become engaged and emotionally invested in her storyline. So I think it’s important that she isn’t portrayed as too obtuse or stubborn towards the end in missing the clues that would have led her to the killer. Otherwise you risk losing the reader’s empathy with her, and alienating them from your story.

I did think the other characters weren’t as well depicted as Millie. It’s important that every character, even minor secondary ones, feel well rounded and believable. You need to work on making each one feel individual and memorable. This is especially key in a book where a lot of different characters are introduced very early on.


Setting:

Setting is of course only the backdrop to a story, but it can be a character in its own right too, helping build atmosphere and even influence the novel’s tone. Obviously Aberdeen is a place that will be familiar to a lot of British readers, but it’s still important to convey a sense of place and offer a different angle on Aberdeen. This was an area where I thought you could build upon a little more. There don’t need to be huge descriptive passages, just small details woven through that help bring your fictional world to life.


Tone:

Tone is one of the hardest elements of a narrative to master, but also one of the most important. If your tone is off-pitch, it won’t ring true with your reader, and so will compromise their engagement with your story. Obviously a mystery crime novel will be quite dark in tone, with elements of tension, menace, suspense and intrigue. And these are facets that aren’t mined to their full potential in these early pages. I would suggest reading as many books in this genre as possible and reading actively, analysing how they build tension, intrigue, suspense etc. How twists, turns and red herrings are used. The first step in being a good writer is being an astute reader, as you can learn a lot about the craft of storytelling by being an analytical reader.


Genre/Market:

You categorise this as crime mystery. As I’m sure you’re aware, the crime/mystery area of the market is incredibly competitive and also very saturated, so a new book really needs to be something fresh and brilliantly told if it is to shine out from a very crowded arena. As I discussed above, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to read voraciously, particularly in the area in which you wish to write. This in turn will help hone your own writing skills, as you’ll acquire an instinctive sense of what does and doesn’t work in your own storytelling.


Synopsis:

Although it’s very concise, I didn’t think this was as clear as it could be. It took me a couple of reads of some of the paragraphs to make sense of it. Perhaps rework this so it flows better and makes more sense to a reader who hasn’t read past the first three chapters.


Line notes:

‘Chances are the car’s still there somewhere. And check the MO against all relevant databases’ – do you mean MOT here? As otherwise MO usually means modus operandi, which means the methodology of something, which doesn’t make sense in this context when you’re discussing cars…

‘next to another full carton’ – great! You know that less is more here, and don’t over-explain things to your reader, instead allowing them to arrive at their own conclusions. This is a much more effective way of storytelling.

Conclusion:

I hope these notes have been helpful to you. As I have already said, I think these early pages mark a promising start but there is still a lot of room for development. As well as reading as widely as possible in the area in which you wish to write, have you considered joining a creative writing group? Receiving regular feedback from writing peers can be an invaluable way to sharpen your writing skills.

I wish you the best of luck in your rewrites, and hope you continue to enjoy writing.


Best wishes

Natalie Braine, Editor
ProfessionalCritique
 31 May 2014, 13:47 #180012 Reply To Post
Further reviews will be added as the editors forward them.
elsieeff
 31 May 2014, 18:30 #180020 Reply To Post
Please pass on to Natalie my thanks for her helpful feedback.
Quote: ProfessionalCritique, Saturday, 31 May 2014 13:46
Editor Review of SEA OF STONES


Dear Lin Forrester

Congratulations on being selected for a professional critique by your writing peers. I enjoyed reading these early pages of your crime mystery novel SEA OF STONES and thought your writing had an ease and confidence to it. I thought that these opening chapters were well written and engaging, but I did think they needed more intrigue and tension to really hook the reader. What I hope these editorial notes will do is provide you with some useful pointers as to how you can hone and develop the existing chapters, as well as give guidance on what to pay attention to as the novel progresses.


Structure:

Structure is the backbone of any novel. It helps to provide shape, focus and drive to the narrative. If your story isn’t sound in structure, the very foundations of your novel may become compromised. From reading these early pages, it seems like your narrative will be linear in its chronology, and largely told from the POV (point of view) of DI Mille Rose. The first scene, which acts as your prologue, is shown from the POV of Roxxi, but she isn’t mentioned again in your synopsis, so I assume no further POVs from her will be featured? And will POVs from Faye also be featured later on, as she becomes a more central figure?

Writers often overlook how they structure their narrative, but it’s the foundations of a good story. It’s always a good exercise your storyboard your novel, either scene by scene or chapter by chapter, so you can more clearly see the shape of your narrative, and the direction it takes. And in that way, it’s easier to hone in on areas that are weaker, perhaps because they lose focus or momentum.


Plot:

For a crime mystery novel, I thought your opening scene was rather weak. There’s intrigue surrounding the identity of the hooded woman, but that is the only sense of mystery in your opening. There needs to be a greater sense of tension and menace if you are to hook the reader at this crucial early juncture in your story.

Likewise, while the first chapter ably sets the scenes and introduces the main characters, I also felt it was somewhat underwhelming as a first chapter. There doesn’t seem to be enough intrigue to compel the reader to keep turning the pages. All the reader knows is that a jewellery store was robbed. There is nothing overly suspicious or sinister about this crime. I think there needs to be a more heightened sense of mystery and suspense if you are to really pull the reader into your story.

And from reading your synopsis, I was again concerned that your narrative lacks the drama, suspense and mystery to really propel your story along. It seems that Millie chooses to ignore key clues, and so it is her failing as a DI that causes the story to culminate in the way that it does. It’s also important that the ending doesn’t feel too overblown and melodramatic, especially after what seems to be quite a slow-burning build-up.


Characterisation:

I thought this was the strongest element of your narrative. You very quickly and vividly get to the heart of who DI Millie Rose is as a character. You instantly align the reader with her, so they become engaged and emotionally invested in her storyline. So I think it’s important that she isn’t portrayed as too obtuse or stubborn towards the end in missing the clues that would have led her to the killer. Otherwise you risk losing the reader’s empathy with her, and alienating them from your story.

I did think the other characters weren’t as well depicted as Millie. It’s important that every character, even minor secondary ones, feel well rounded and believable. You need to work on making each one feel individual and memorable. This is especially key in a book where a lot of different characters are introduced very early on.


Setting:

Setting is of course only the backdrop to a story, but it can be a character in its own right too, helping build atmosphere and even influence the novel’s tone. Obviously Aberdeen is a place that will be familiar to a lot of British readers, but it’s still important to convey a sense of place and offer a different angle on Aberdeen. This was an area where I thought you could build upon a little more. There don’t need to be huge descriptive passages, just small details woven through that help bring your fictional world to life.


Tone:

Tone is one of the hardest elements of a narrative to master, but also one of the most important. If your tone is off-pitch, it won’t ring true with your reader, and so will compromise their engagement with your story. Obviously a mystery crime novel will be quite dark in tone, with elements of tension, menace, suspense and intrigue. And these are facets that aren’t mined to their full potential in these early pages. I would suggest reading as many books in this genre as possible and reading actively, analysing how they build tension, intrigue, suspense etc. How twists, turns and red herrings are used. The first step in being a good writer is being an astute reader, as you can learn a lot about the craft of storytelling by being an analytical reader.


Genre/Market:

You categorise this as crime mystery. As I’m sure you’re aware, the crime/mystery area of the market is incredibly competitive and also very saturated, so a new book really needs to be something fresh and brilliantly told if it is to shine out from a very crowded arena. As I discussed above, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to read voraciously, particularly in the area in which you wish to write. This in turn will help hone your own writing skills, as you’ll acquire an instinctive sense of what does and doesn’t work in your own storytelling.


Synopsis:

Although it’s very concise, I didn’t think this was as clear as it could be. It took me a couple of reads of some of the paragraphs to make sense of it. Perhaps rework this so it flows better and makes more sense to a reader who hasn’t read past the first three chapters.


Line notes:

‘Chances are the car’s still there somewhere. And check the MO against all relevant databases’ – do you mean MOT here? As otherwise MO usually means modus operandi, which means the methodology of something, which doesn’t make sense in this context when you’re discussing cars…

‘next to another full carton’ – great! You know that less is more here, and don’t over-explain things to your reader, instead allowing them to arrive at their own conclusions. This is a much more effective way of storytelling.

Conclusion:

I hope these notes have been helpful to you. As I have already said, I think these early pages mark a promising start but there is still a lot of room for development. As well as reading as widely as possible in the area in which you wish to write, have you considered joining a creative writing group? Receiving regular feedback from writing peers can be an invaluable way to sharpen your writing skills.

I wish you the best of luck in your rewrites, and hope you continue to enjoy writing.


Best wishes

Natalie Braine, Editor


tankie2
 09 Jun 2014, 17:29 #180321 Reply To Post
When will more reviews be added? I think I'm due for a mini (Richard Zimmerman and the Midlife Leap).

This post was last edited by tankie2, 09 Jun 2014, 17:31
ProfessionalCritique
 20 Jun 2014, 23:11 #180788 Reply To Post
Quote: tankie2, Monday, 9 Jun 2014 17:29
When will more reviews be added? I think I'm due for a mini (Richard Zimmerman and the Midlife Leap).




The remaining critiques for this month will be pasted as soon as received. The Random House editor assigned left Random House in the last couple of weeks so we are waiting on the editor to complete the critiques and may need to reassign to another editor if not received soon. So it may be at least a few more weeks. Many thanks for your patience and they will be posted as soon as we receive.
Mathewiredale
 21 Jun 2014, 09:35 #180806 Reply To Post
Thanks for the update. I was beginning to wonder what the delay was so it's nice to be kept informed. Now I can relax and get back to my numerous plot issues...
tankie2
 25 Jun 2014, 16:22 #180932 Reply To Post
Quote: ProfessionalCritique, Friday, 20 Jun 2014 23:11
Quote: tankie2, Monday, 9 Jun 2014 17:29
When will more reviews be added? I think I'm due for a mini (Richard Zimmerman and the Midlife Leap).




The remaining critiques for this month will be pasted as soon as received. The Random House editor assigned left Random House in the last couple of weeks so we are waiting on the editor to complete the critiques and may need to reassign to another editor if not received soon. So it may be at least a few more weeks. Many thanks for your patience and they will be posted as soon as we receive.


Thanks - I'll keep a look out. Cheers.
Page 1 Last : 2 > Add To My Topic Watch List Start New Topic Reply To Topic
Server Time: 17 December 2017, 11:59

Powered by Zarr Forums

-

 

Adverts provided by Google and not endorsed by YouWriteOn.com.