• Are you struggling with a story that you know has potential but you can’t quite figure out what’s not working?
  • Are you ready to submit your manuscript but lack confidence that it is ready to be submitted?
  • Are you new to picture book writing and need some gentle guidance?
  • Are you at a place where you can’t find a single word to cut, yet your word count is still higher than it should be?

I can help you.

My critiques are unique because they not only offer comments on your work, they also provide mini lessons or refresher courses in picture book writing (when a manuscript calls for it). I make notes on what’s working well in the manuscript, and I highlight trouble spots. After I pinpoint the major issues with the manuscript, I explain why it is an issue and give clear examples of what I mean. I often give examples of how the story might be improved, and I excel in helping writers who are new to authoring picture books.

My critiques include:

  • A highly detailed summation of my findings, often with mini lessons (or refresher courses) embedded in the summation.
  • Line-by-line comments and examples of possible edit options using the markups and comments features within MS Word.
  • If appropriate for the situation, references to resources for further learning.

My detailed analysis of a manuscript starts with an overall read. I consider all the story components. A few of the things I consider are as follows:

  • Beginning pages, the hook, and pacing.
  • Story structure and plot.
  • Story focus – does it wander or seem disjointed in spots?
  • Story conflict, climax, resolution, and ending—the all-important story arc (for those manuscripts that fit that type of picture book story).
  • Character development.


LINE CRITIQUE QUESTIONS THAT I ASK AS I STUDY THE MANUSCRIPT

  • Do all the dots in the story seem connected?
  • Is time and place clear throughout?
  • Is the tense consistent?
  • Is the point of view consistent?
  • Are there any awkward, clumsy, or wordy sentences?
  • Are there missing or confusing transitions between scenes?
  • Is there too much telling and not enough showing?
  • Is there too much dialogue and not enough action?
  • Are there places where the text is doing the illustrator's job?
  • Do all passages create images or move the story forward in some way?
  • Are there places to tighten the story?
  • Is the story littered with passive sentences?
  • Are there spelling, punctuation, or grammar issues? Please note: I am not a copy editor. Back to Menu

WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOUR WORK?

  • I think the best reasons are illustrated by the testimonials  I have received in response to my critiques.
  • I am experienced in providing helpful critiques. In addition to the testimonials, my critiques so impressed author Kristen Fulton that she invited me to do a webinar for her nonfiction picture book group, WOWnonficpic.
  • I have written over 200 picture book critiques (critique groups and helping fellow writers).
  • I am experienced in picture book writing. In the last several years, I have written over 100 picture books.

MY PROMISE TO YOU: I can’t guarantee you that you will land an agent or be offered a contract because of my critique. But I can promise you that you will learn from my critique, and if you apply what you learn, you will have a better manuscript than you did before we worked together.

However, I do not critique rhyme. I leave that up to the rhyme experts. Back to Menu

IF YOU WOULD LIKE A CRITIQUE FROM ME

  • Contact me to inquire about my availability.
  • I will get back to you regarding my available dates.
  • If timeline works for you, send payment via PayPal. See Fees
  • Send 800 words or fewer via email address (I will provide). I will accept longer works, though an additional fee is required (see FEES). If the goal with longer works is to get word count down, additional fees may not apply. However, the critique will not be as detailed when focusing on improving word count on a longer piece.
  • Once I read the manuscript, I will give you an estimated time frame for the completion of your critique.

TESTIMONIALS

Vivian Kirkfield, BA, MS, Author, Educator, Parenting Speaker - Most writers have two persona – they are strong bold conveyors of thoughts while at the same time they are sensitive and protective about their work. Someone who does critiques must have two persona as well – stellar editing skills with an eye to marketability and readability combined with an empathetic and caring manner. Alayne Kay Christian fits this description to a tee and I am thrilled to recommend her to others who seek a professional yet personal critique of the highest quality. Alayne not only gave me line-by-line edits and helped me with plot and character problems, she also did mini-workshop lessons in the areas where my story was weak. I will use her services again without hesitation.

Beth Halleran, Children's Writer - I can't say enough about Alayne and her work critiquing my picture book manuscript. Highly detailed, comprehensive in scope and compassionate in nature, I found Alayne to be the ultimate resource for me and the manuscripts close to my heart. Alayne took me through my manuscript step by step, with gentle hands, offering guidance I could not possibly get elsewhere. I highly recommend hiring her for a professional, manuscript critique

Lori Mozdzierz, Children’s Book Writer - Pssst! If you have a manuscript where you're whining, "Help! I'm stuck and I can't figure it out," Alayne is the manuscript whisperer! Not only does Alayne offer outstanding suggestions, she asks questions about the story that help get the rusty wheels of creativity turning again.

Darshana Khiani - Children's Writer, represented by Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary - I have used paid freelance editors in the past, but the critiques I have received from Alayne have been far more useful for me and more cost effective as well! She has an eye for what's missing and is able to deliver her thoughts with some sugar to help the critique medicine go down. I love, love that when she gives the critical feedback and suggestions, she explains the why. This made it easier for me to internalize her feedback and use her suggestions as a springboard to find my own perfect solution! I will definitely be using her again when I need to get "unstuck".

Donna Cangelosi - Children's Writer - Alayne's picture book critiques are nothing short of amazing! Before providing feedback, she read through my manuscripts, asked questions to clarify my intent for them, and gave a time-frame for completion of the critiques. In one case, she even expedited the time frame despite her busy schedule.

When I received Alayne's critiques, I could not believe the amount of feedback she provided. Alayne gave several paragraphs of ideas for clarifying the stories, references and links with information and resources, and a line by line review of my manuscripts with words and poetic devices for enriching the text. As if that's not enough, Alayne offered to re-read a manuscript before I submitted it.

Alayne has helped me bring my stories and writing to new heights. I highly recommend her critique service!

Poppy Wrote, PhD - Children's Writer - Alayne’s critique service is so much more than a critique. She really takes the time to analyze the story structure – it’s like a picture book lesson based on your manuscript. She was able to pinpoint elements in my story structure that no one else had seen (after multiple critiques). You cannot put a price on her notes. Whether you’re a beginner, or a veteran, I am confident she will be able to show you the spot (or spots) where the little voice in your head tells you something is still off, but that you can’t see.

Cathy C. Hall - Children's Writer - When Alayne says that her critiques are a detailed analysis, she means it! Her comments on my manuscript were loaded with specifics and her suggestions were right on point. But most importantly, Alayne gives you the tools to make your picture book manuscript shine. And that's a critique detail that's invaluable!

Kathy Halsey, Children’s Writer/Educator/Former Librarian, represented by Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary  - Alayne cut to the heart of my manuscript with her in-depth critique. My piece had been through multiple revisions and critique groups, but there was still a glaring plot problem that only Alayne saw. In her timely response (only a mere two weeks) she gave me concrete suggestions, graphic organizers to plug in my plot, and a power point that served as a dummy. The end result? My picture book garnered the attention of three agents.  Alayne is still in contact with me about my manuscript, as she cares about me, the writer, and my growth. Get in line, and get a critique from Alayne now. Follow me and 14 other kidlit writers http://groggorg.blogspot.com/

Jennifer Kerkeby, Children’s Writer Children's Writer, represented by Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary - Alayne has the uncanny ability to look at a manuscript and hone in on the areas that need to be strengthened first. She is gentle in her approach, but thorough in her critique. She gave me some strong examples of books that had succeeded in the areas that I was still struggling with. For example, Alayne had some questions about my plot structure and main character. Some of the elements that I thought were clear weren’t translating. She was able to show me why that was, and even gave me the tools to go back and begin my rewrite with confidence.

I have had many critiques over the years, but Alayne was undoubtedly one of the most thorough, honest and helpful. I highly recommend her!

Kathleen Cornell Berman - Children's Writer - My first reaction to Alayne's critique was WOW! She totally impressed me with her thoughtful suggestions.

Alayne zeroes in and finds your weaknesses while at the same time highlights your strengths, so there is a wonderful balance in the way she presents her critique. She asks the right questions, provides concrete examples, links to blogs and mini lessons that will clarify her points and help you get your manuscript on the track to success.

Donna Sadd - Children's Writer - I've been exceptionally lucky to have several picture book manuscripts critiqued by Alayne, and all I can say is WOW! Her thoroughness is amazing, and her suggestions are spot on and often surprising. I've taken stories in directions I had not thought about based on her critiques.

Additionally, as a relative newbie to writing for children, I especially appreciate Alayne's diligence in assessing the bones of a story. She is equally adept at helping one get on the right track if stuck on a story, or can assist in fine tuning a manuscript for submission. Alayne's done both for me and I've been thrilled!

Laura Jenkins, Children's Writer - Alayne did a wonderful job critiquing my manuscript. She was precise and direct and pointed out things that neither my critique group nor I had noticed. The critique went above and beyond what I had expected. Her notes and feedback will help me not only fine tune the manuscript that I am currently working on, but will also be helpful in all my future writings. I cannot say enough about her critique. It is by far the best critique I have received thus far, and I would not hesitate to use her services again.

Teresa Robeson, Author, Illustrator and contributor KidLIt411.com - Having had feedback from several critique groups, as well as from paid, professional critiquers, I consider critiques from Alayne among the most useful that I’ve ever received. Alayne gives thorough and thoughtful line by line edits, often pointing out issues that no one else has spotted. Her approach is gentle, probably from her background as a life coach, and she guides you with tact and good humor in showing you precisely where your writing needs to be changed. She explains clearly why she is suggesting the edits she does, and, when you need it, provides you with examples that you can consider using or that help you see the problem in a different light. Whatever your genre, I highly recommend Alayne’s critique services. She has experience in writing for various ages and categories, and impeccable grammar. Her critiques are a worthwhile investment in your writing career and a great value for your money.

Jan Godown Annino, author of a nationally recognized picture book, on the critique of a new work-in-progress - From the first sentence, ”You are off to a good start with this adaptation,” through a critical view, line by line, the advice rocketed me back into revising. I felt active in an exciting idea-making process, especially with Alayne’s expressed shift in her thinking on an aspect. I felt as if I was in the room with her, experiencing the give-and-take of a lively story discussion. She reread the picture book several times before sharing her review. Her follow-up to check on progress is refreshing. An Alayne Kay Christian critique feels like a picture book story partnership that grows to help your piece glow.

Nancy Rimar, Children's Writer - Alayne gave a professional critique with positive feedback, and she was generous with suggestions and examples. She challenged and encouraged me to grow as a writer while respecting my voice. Alayne pointed out my weaknesses and my strengths, and her critique stimulated and transformed my process, making me a better writer.

Yvonne Mes, Children's Writer, Illustrator and contributor KIdLIt411.com - I have been fortunate to share a critique group with Alayne for almost a year. Alayne’s critiques always give me something to think about. She cares about the story and about making you a better writer. She works with you to create the story you envision. The detail in her feedback shows that she has thorough knowledge of writing, and with picture books in particular, she has a way of homing in on the big questions. Her critiques are professional and respectful, but she doesn’t seem afraid to put her finger on any issues. Whether you need a thorough grammar and punctuation check, a dissection of the story arc, or specific feedback on any aspect of the story, Alayne will work with you to make your story the best it can be while maintaining the integrity of your story.

Sylvia Liu, Author, Illustrator, Winner of the Lee & Low New Voices Award, and co-founder and developer of KidLit411.com - I am so lucky to have benefited tremendously from Alayne Kay Christian’s critiques of my picture book manuscripts. She has a knack for raising the one or two key questions that clarify the story,, or make me think about the story in a deeper way. She is also great with line editing, suggesting word and phrase changes that improve the story. In other words, she is superb with both the big picture and the minutiae of picture book manuscripts. She is also thorough and conscientious.

Elaine Kiely Kearns, Children's Writer, Educator, and Founder of KidLit411.com - I highly recommend Alayne Kay Christian's critique services. Alayne gives clear, concise critiques. Her critique notes are thorough and reflective. She gives you the kind of feedback that you can do something with - feedback that can take your manuscript in a new and wonderful direction.

Denise MacLennan Bruce, Children's Writer - After Alayne's fully detailed critique, my story has gone to such heights. She didn't just critique my story, she read until she understood the story and she knew what to ask me when she had the need. Alayne not only gives a line-by-line critique, which would be awesome in itself, but also gives her detailed thoughts, opinions, and guides to help my stories along. She tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear, and that is what a true critiquer is all about:. the truth in a kind way.




Leslie Goodman – Children’s Writer - Alayne's gift for knowing precisely what is needed to craft a strong story amazed me. I had grown too close to my manuscript to see its faults, but Alayne pinpointed my weak spots and offered numerous spot-on suggestions to strengthen my characters and plot. She is truly a gifted editor, and I highly recommend her services.

Anne Broyles, author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS; SHY MAMA’S HALLOWEEN; LEAVING HOME/FINDING HOME; ARTURO AND THE NAVIDAD BIRDS, which was awarded Second Place in the International Latino Book Awards for "Best Bilingual Children's Fiction Picture Book."

Alayne gave my picture book manuscript a thorough and thoughtful analysis and evaluation. She asked good questions, shared possible resources, and gave me plenty of concrete suggestions for improvement without pushing her ideas on my work. Even though I am part of two excellent critique groups, I’m thankful for Alayne’s comments and perspective, which nudged me toward a better book.

Meg Miller, Children's Writer - Kind, detailed, wise. I can’t recommend Alayne’s critiques enough! My favorite part of this thorough review was the 3 choices she gave me for fixing my story arc. I tweaked one to make it my own, but Alayne’s multiple suggestions really drove the point home of how exactly my story arc was missing the mark. Not to mention advance viewing of an excellent blog post she’d written that focused on one of my story’s issues, so helpful. I’ve learned a lot over the past year, studying Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books and Linda Ashman’s The Nuts and Bolts of Picture Book Writing, but it’s easy to lose sight of the rules and story objectives in the midst of the creative process. Alayne’s comments and suggestions were right on target with what I’d learned and led to great revisions, if I don’t say so myself!


Back to menu.


ALAYNE’S BIO/RESUME

Click here for my 50 minute webinar on perfecting critiques. It gives an excellent overview of what I look for when I critique someone’s work.

FEES


Alayne is only doing critiques for Art of Arc students and alumni at this time. Fee is discounted at $49.00 (normal critique fee is $79.00)


Back to top of page.



Click the above "E-mail Me" button to ask questions, check my availability, and receive instructions for manuscript submission and critique fee payment.


Alayne Kay Christian
Award-Winning Children's Book Author
Picture Book Manuscript
Critique Service
email me
email me
All content copyright 2014 Alayne Kay Christian
email me
Alayne is currently offering critiques to Art of Arc students and alumni only.