Need help with writing your novel?

I had an email from someone I didn’t know the other day, saying he was up to chater (sic) 8 in his novel and, if I wanted to help him with any aspects of it, to plase (sic) let him know.

Short answer: No.
Why not?
Basically, because I prefer to help my friends than strangers and there’s only so much time in the day that I can spare away from writing to comment on MSS free of charge.
And because there are other ways novice writers can get help. Like these:

Step One:
Read. Read books of the kind you are writing, and books about how to write that kind of book.
Step Two:
Join a crit group dealing with your kind of book, either online or in the real world, where you crit their writing and they crit yours.
Possible Step Three:
Pay a professional.

Which brings me to one of my (unpaid) beta readers. I did a very small favour for him, and in return he beta read “Rogue Rainlord“. I can’t recommend this guy enough – he was spot on so many times with everything from plot holes, to how characterisation could be improved, to typos. His forte is continuity problems.

Rogue Rainlord will be a better book because he took the trouble to comment. I can’t thank him enough.

If you want your sff book (or part of it) professionally read by someone who is very good at this sort of thing and who will give you real value for money, try this guy (and no, I’m not getting a cut!)

His name is Phill Berrie, and you can find him here:


Need help with writing your novel? — 4 Comments

  1. I have a speciality in identifying marine creatures. I gained this through hard work and dedication. I wrote three books on the subject.

    I very often get these types of E-mails: ‘I found these things/took photographs in … (insert part of Australia). Can you help me identify them?’

    Invariably, my answer to this question is: ‘I’d be glad to help you. My fee is $50 an hour (this is cheap, btw).’

    Invariably, too, one never hears from these freeloaders again. Organisations/individuals with genuine identification requests don’t dump a proverbial box on your proverbial desk and ask you to ‘sort it out’. They do their home works first.

  2. Odd, isn’t it, how any writer seems to be considered fair game for random strangers to come and ask for help … or in some cases, to approach you with a story idea and ask you to write it for them.

    I wonder, does the same kind of thing happen in the music world with your daughter’s circle of friends?

  3. That is interesting, Patty. I have the same thing with bird IDs. and sometimes the question is worded something like this: “I saw this green bird with red on it somewhere. What was it?” Sigh.

    Ru, I don’t know – I will ask her.

  4. That is a good one about birds.
    Overseas relatives sometimes ask us: ‘I saw this black-and-white bird. What is it?’
    And if I feel kind, I might venture: ‘What colour eyes did it have?’
    To which they reply: ‘I don’t know. I didn’t see it that close.’
    Me: Aaarghhh!

    (to the uninitiated: in our part of Sydney, we have three black-and-white bird species. They are very different in behaviour and posture, but to the complete novice, there is an unequivocal way of telling them apart: Currawongs have yellow eyes, magpies have browny-red eyes and peewees have white eyes)

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