Fiction Writing & Editing Services 

Editing & Critique

Manuscript Critique and Editing

Who am I?

I am a writer, teacher, and editor specializing in literary and mainstream fiction. I am also qualified and eager to work with writers of memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction. I have many years of experience in teaching creative writing at the college level—at Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of Utah, and Whitman College. I have worked with both beginning and advanced writers on short stories as well as novels, and clients and students of mine have covered the gamut of genres: from mainstream-realist, to experimental, to fantasy and vampire novels. As an instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth Online, I also have several years’ experience in teaching both fiction writing and personal essay-writing in online formats. In addition, I have experience editing screenplays. I am available to help at any stage in the writing process, from brainstorming to polishing a final draft.

How can I help you?

I aim to serve as a representative reader—educated, curious, open-minded—for works of creative prose in progress. Perhaps you have had helpful teachers in the past but have now moved on from school or are between workshop groups. Perhaps you’re interested in getting an objective opinion of your work from a well-informed reader who doesn’t know you. This is where I come in. 

I read for all the classic, formal elements of storytelling: characterization, pacing, dialogue, sensory details, and sentence and paragraph construction as well as chapter structure and overall narrative arc. I also read to discover the work’s overall meaning and purpose. In what genre or literary tradition would the work be placed? What could be learned by looking at your work’s published cousins? What is the goal of the work: Primarily to entertain? To make an aesthetic statement? To raise questions about the world we live in? Some combination of these?

But what I can do when working for you most successfully is to create the conditions under which you come to see your work in a new light--and may begin to revise accordingly. For example, I may suggest a direction a story can go, and you may not take that suggestion. And yet the suggestion may work subtly in your mind--may lead, directly or indirectly, to an idea for yet a third path that the piece, or whole book, might take. This is the kind of thing that happens when editor and writer are working together most productively. 

My editorial method

I write or type comments directly on the page, noting strong points and offering specific suggestions for improvement: a scene that might be expanded, a point where the text should “show not tell” or vice versa, a character action or gesture that needs clearer motivation. At the end of the piece, I provide an in-depth letter of critique that includes my overall interpretation of the work, my assessment of its strengths, and my recommendations for further development or other revision. For a short story, this critique will usually be at least 500 words; for a novel, it may run to several pages.   

Copy editing

Copy editing involves correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, and other aspects of sentence and paragraph structure as well as revising for continuity and clarity. It is appropriate for manuscripts that are in a late draft and have already undergone extensive development and revision. When editing hard copy I mark all changes in ink, so that the writer can see my revisions clearly and compare them to the original draft. When editing on screen, I use the Track Changes function to propose changes.


Ongoing Mentorship

I also offer longer-term mentorships for writers who want support and advice that is not necessarily limited to a single project. 

Together, you and I will decide on the structure of the mentorship—what our goals are both for the mentorship as a whole and for each separate stage of it. Contact takes place via email, phone conversations, or both. In addition to critique and line editing, I offer reading recommendations, personalized exercises, writing deadlines—everything you would hope for and expect from a writing coach or a workshop leader.

Contact me at
cdiacono [at] gmail [dot] com if you’d like to discuss mentorship.


My rate for either project editing or mentorship is $50 per hour, with a 2-hour minimum. The hourly rate is also $50 for a manuscript on which you would like both a critique (i.e., project editing) and light copy editing. (That can be appropriate for manuscripts that are at an intermediate stage of development.) For copy editing only, the rate is $30 an hour, with a 2-hour minimum. 

For preliminary inquiries:

**Email me at
cdiacono [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me about your manuscript. What is the genre? What was the initial inspiration for the work? What are your goals for it? What is the word count? Are there specific aspects of the manuscript you are uncertain about? Do you want a critique, copy editing, or both?  

**Based on the information you provide, I’ll reply with an initial price estimate. I may ask to see part of the manuscript via attachment before giving an estimate. The total fee is always negotiable: If you have a specific amount budgeted, let me know what it is, and I will let you know what I can provide for that amount. I’ll also estimate how quickly you can expect me to complete the work.

**Once we agree on a price and goals for the critique, I’ll draw up a contract and send it via email for your review. I will begin the work once I receive the manuscript, a copy of the contract with your signature, and payment of one-half of the agreed-upon price. The remaining balance is due upon completion of the work.

**I accept personal checks, money orders, and e-check and credit card payments via PayPal.


How to submit your manuscript

Email the manuscript as a Word or .rtf attachment. You may then ask me to make all comments and corrections online and return your work via attachment or to make notations by hand and return the work by regular mail. If you prefer, you can choose to send and receive the manuscript via regular mail, in which case notations will necessarily be made by hand. For regular mail, the sender on either end absorbs mailing costs only on that end. 

All inquiries welcome! Email me at cdiacono [at] gmail [dot] com.