I love my (former) writers’ group. They’ve read every chapter in my book at least twice and given valuable feedback, however …
The biggest problem with my book is that it still (after several revisions) doesn’t have a cohesive story arc. I’ve paid a plot specialist, I’ve read a plot book and plotted out my chapters on butcher paper and in an Excel spreadsheet. Still, my arc is lacking. The problem is, in both writers’ groups and writing workshops, readers are critiquing 20 pages at a time. No matter how good their memories are, they’re reading at most 20 pages per month, a completed manuscript over the course of a year—not fast enough to get a good handle on the story arc or character development of a book. Consequently, my chapters are polished until they shine, but still without clear connections to one another. What to do?
One solution is to ask a couple friends you trust to read the entire manuscript, either for money, in exchange for reading their manuscripts, or out of the goodness of their hearts. Another is to hire an editor. The problem is, once your friend or editor has read it once through, who do you ask to read it a second time? It’s a lot to ask one friend to read your manuscript multiple times. It’s expensive to hire an editor to do it for you. So what is the solution?
Who reads your manuscripts? Do you find that having the same person read the same manuscript multiple times is best, or having someone different read each draft works better? What kind of barter system do you have with your readers? Ie How do you repay them? Does your writers’ group or MFA program have a system for allowing writers to get feedback on their completed manuscripts? What is that system? Do tell!