I saw a post on Twitter in January about a group offering free manuscript critiques and went to check out their website. Every month they select one manuscript and then the Council provides feedback on the first three chapters. Many writers and editors offer similar services for a fee (often a VERY STEEP fee), but as one can imagine, newbie writers don’t usually have tons of cash to throw around. People offering to give feedback just out of the goodness of their hearts? It seemed too good to be true.
So, I sent in my submission and waited to hear back.
To my delight, they picked me!
Not long after, the three members of the Council each sent a page-long overview of their thoughts. They offered encouragement, commented on overall strengths they observed, and made suggestions for areas where I could make improvements. They also included a copy of my first three chapters with comments and line-edits added.
Unlike the feedback I’ve had from my class, the three members of the Inkwell Council all added their comments on the same copy of my manuscript. (see screenshot below)
It felt like I was sitting around a table with them as they read through it and discussed. Or maybe more like I was hiding under the table eavesdropping as they talked to each other. 🙂
It was such a fun way to get feedback.
I really really love getting feedback. More than anything else, feedback from critical readers has helped me shape my stories and improve the quality of my writing since I embarked on this writing journey. For example, there are so many times where *I* think something is perfectly clear and then realize that, in fact, it’s confusing for readers. Or a sentence I thought was just so clever is actually distracting. (Those are called “darlings” and sometimes you need to kill them. Cue horror movie music!) Or a metaphor that I was working on got all tangled up somewhere and needs to be straightened out or thrown away. Wait, did I just mess up a metaphor to describe messing up a metaphor? I think I did. Anyway, the point is that we writers are often just too close to our work to really see what’s working and not working.
The Inkwell Council noted some of my writing ‘tics’ (as my writing teacher calls them) like overly long sentences with lots of commas. What? You noticed that, too? 😛 What can I say- I write like I talk! Tics can also be overused words or style issues that pop up frequently. Thanks to their feedback, I have some specific things to look for as I dive into a new round of edits.
I’ve been fortunate to get as much feedback as I have in the past year, and I know I’m luckier than many new writers, but most of the feedback I’ve had has been from other newbies. Super helpful, but at times, a *bit* like the blind leading the blind. The folks at the Inkwell Council, however, really know what they’re talking about and their critique was incredibly helpful. They were encouraging and supportive while still being very honest and direct about some adjustments that would make my story better.
I highly recommend them to any writers who want to improve. And really, that’s all of us, right?
Find them here: