While there are some very interesting ideas here, the main problem with the MS is that you don’t as yet have the necessary tools and techniques that will allow you to turn these fun ideas into an engaging novel. At the moment, the MS reads very much like a film treatment – it tells us a lot about what people do (the basic mechanics of moving around in this world you’ve created), what they look like and what they say – and I can easily see how this MS might be translated into a film. However, in order for this to work as a novel, you need to pay more attention to issues such as plot, story structure, characterisation and narrative, all of which, in this current draft, are quite weak.
Writing a novel is, in some ways, very similar to building a house. You might have a great concept for the house you want to build, but in order for the house to be strong and sturdy, you need to bring a lot of skill and craft to the actual building. To do this, you might employ specialists – architects, carpenters, bricklayers etc – or you might do a course that will give you the necessary skills. At the moment, you have a promising concept. What you need to do from here is to develop the skills – in building a story, in developing characters and in growing a narrative – that will enable you to turn this concept into a successful novel. Manuscript Assessments / Publisher Submission Appraisal Writers Victoria Level 3, The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 There are many ways in which you might develop these skills.
Firstly, and most importantly, keep reading. Read as many novels as you can from different genres – read for pleasure and read in order to learn how successful writers achieve what they do. To help you with this, you might consult a book such as Francine Prose’s Reading Like A Writer, in which she not only outlines how to analyse what you read, but also how to apply what you learn to your own writing. It’s an old saying that the best writers are also the best readers, so by reading a lot you can’t help but improve your own writing skills. Another way of building your skills is to attend workshops/courses that will introduce you to the basics of novel writing.
There are lots of these about and their costs vary. If you do decide to undertake a course, make sure you take the time to research who it is who is offering the course (i.e. what sort of writing and/or industry experience they have) and whether or not you’re likely to get value for money. Stick with trustworthy organisations and avoid individuals spruiking themselves on the web, and you should be OK.
Organisations such as the Australian Society of Authors and Writers Victoria are also able to help you find a reputable course/workshop that best suits your budget and your needs. You might also look at joining a writing and/or reading group. These are great ways to talk about writing (whether your own or that of more established novelists) and to build your skills base. There are also many books available that will help you with the basics of writing – your local library and/or bookshop will be able to direct you to popular titles, but you might want to look (for a start) at: ? Stephen King, On Writing ? Kate Grenville, The Writing Book ? Kate Grenville, Writing from Start to Finish ? Julia Bell, The Creative Writing Coursebook ? David Lodge, The Art of Fiction. The library at Writers Victoria also has an extensive collection of books designed to help writers build their skills, so you might find that a great place to start. I’ll go into more detail below about specific issues you might want to think about as you continue to develop this MS. Essentially, there are problems with the MS’s plot, structure, narrative, characterisation and language, and you would need to address these if this specific MS was to have the best chance possible of being commercially published.
Thinking about these issues while you’re developing your skills as a writer will help you to set the groundwork for your next draft.