Hi, How Can I Help You?

There have been a couple things I’ve being doing recently, which could be of help to some writers.

Firstly, prior to publication.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big advocate of getting feedback on writing. I’ve written a post about it in the past, which can be found here, and I have a page on the website all about finding readers for your work. Feedback is crucial to a writer – without it, not only will you not improve, but your work is unlikely to find publication – a beta/proofreader/editor will help identify typos, awkward phrases, plot inconsistencies etc. Every piece of fiction goes through some sort of editing, but if a slush reader sees a story – whether it’s short or long fiction – littered with typos, they’re not going to bother reading it, no matter how good the actual plot and characters are.

So yes, get feedback. How intensive the feedback is, and what you need in particular, are answers only you know. I give a variety of ways of getting it on the page mentioned previously, but it is a service I offer through Fiverr. I pride myself on being fast, honest, and encouraging, giving detailed critique regarding whatever story I’m working on. I have almost 30 five star reviews at this point, a number of repeat customers, and some of the authors I’ve worked with are currently self-publishing their work, have had short stories published, or are working towards querying. You can find out more details through Fiverr or contact me on Twitter (@elleturpitt). If you’re on a budget, just let me know, as I am able to do custom orders, as well.

And, secondly – reviews.

I started this blog to both promote my own work and writing, and others. I’ve done a number of reviews on here, and glancing over them, it’s easy to see how varied my tastes are. But I’ve recently started specifically reviewing horror for Dead Head Reviewswhere I’ve reviewed collections, anthologies, and a couple of novels, as well as my favourite podcast, Calling DarknessIf you are a horror fan, definitely check it out.

These reviews also go up on Goodreads. Though not all my reviews on Unwrapping Words are on there as well, if you want me to review your (non-horror) book for this blog, I’d put the review on Goodreads as well. If you’d like to contact me about reviewing your book, whatever genre, and whether it’s an anthology you’re featured in, your own short story collection, or a novella/novel, again, just DM me on Twitter. Let me know the genre, so I know if it’s for Dead Head or this blog.

Both the service & reviews have allowed me to read some absolutely excellent fiction, and discover new authors – and honestly, especially with the Fiverr service, championing these authors is something I really like doing, helping spread the word about their work and seeing them grow as writers. So why not contact me, and let me do the same for you?

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The Value of Feedback

Every writer knows (or should know) the worth of feedback. Yes, we can pass our stories to friends and relatives but unless they have an eye for details the most one could expect is “I like it” or “Wasn’t fussed”, and some of them will say it’s great just to spare our feelings.

As writers, what we really need is good, constructive feedback. It’s great a story works but we need to know why. Similarly, a pair of objective eyes can go a long way in pinpointing what’s wrong, what doesn’t work, awkward sentences or grammatical errors we may have just missed.

I used to be a fairly active member of FictionPress. For those who don’t know, FictionPress was the sister site of FanFiction.org. I actually joined both in the early 2000s; FanFiction once I discovered I could write about Harry Potter, and shortly after, FictionPress when it started. Then I stopped, for a while, but while at University (possibly a little earlier) I rejoined the website and started posting more, as well as participating in The Roadhouse forum, where you could exchange reviews.

This worked out really well. I got to read some really good stories posted by other writers, and received a lot of great feedback on my work. Encouraging feedback, too, and through the reviews managed to realise exactly what I was doing wrong, and learned a few things about grammar that I hadn’t actually known before.

At University, studying Creative Writing, seminars were made up mostly of reading and critiquing people’s work. It was more important to be honest, and to be specific; to help pinpoint exactly what was right and wrong with another student’s story. And, under the right tutors, we were encouraged to experiment and try different techniques, styles, and to be completely honest in what we told others.

It’s something I’ve really missed since leaving University. I stopped posting on FictionPress when I realized I wanted to try to get my work out there. So there was no source for that sort of feedback. And it isn’t just on a spelling, grammar, etc level where the feedback is valuable.

It’s a confidence thing, too. Entering competitions and entering stories for possible publication, I constantly found myself wondering – is this good enough? Even with stories I really like, I still get that tremor of fear. But, with places like FictionPress and in a seminar, even when the feedback contains points to improve on, people will still tell you the things they liked about the story.

So, knowing I needed some way of getting feedback on what I’ve been writing, I joined Scribophile. I’ve only been on there a week, giving critiques, and so far have two stories posted up. The first has  had some really good critiques on it, which will go a long way to polishing it and making it much better than it currently is. I’m still waiting to get a few more on the second, but the other writers on the site have shown themselves to be kind, welcoming and eager to help everyone. The forums are entertaining, and the site has some brilliant articles in regards to writing. Overall, so far I’m enjoying the experience, and it’s given me exactly what I need. A place to get good, honest feedback, to help me grow as a writer and to give me that little boost of confidence I’m going to need going forward.