If you are, then one of the avenues open to you is to seek professional help – which, of course, comes with a price tag. If you are debating where you need this kind of help then you could do worse that read first the piece that Bibliobibuli has up on her excellent blog today, written by just such a free-lance editor, Rob Redman.
The editor also has an excellent blog here.
I hasten to say that I have no personal knowledge of how good or otherwise this particular editor is at editing, but his advice is definitely good.
To whet your appetite, here’s the beginning of the article:
This is how the story goes. Freelance fiction editing began to bloom a couple of decades back, when downsizing publishers sacked many of their in-house editors. Publishers were now more reluctant to take on manuscripts that were in need of development, and there were dozens of experienced fiction editors in need of work. It was only a matter of time before those editors began to advertise their services directly to hopeful writers. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where more prospective authors than ever before compete for the attentions of fewer publishing houses, hiring an editor is seen as one way to increase the chances of success.
I think this has led to a slight misconception regarding the role of freelance editors, and it’s one that the less scrupulous editors are all too ready to exploit. You see, editors aren’t really there to help you sell your book, but rather to help you improve it, to develop your abilities as a writer, and progress towards that point where you can sell your book for yourself. Personally, I’d say that 90% of the critiques I do are about helping writers in the early stages of their development, rather than polishing almost-perfect manuscripts before they’re submitted to agents.
It’s best to think of an editor is as a writing coach, and the process of the critique as a focussed writing course, based around your novel.