What's your next step?

Is my main character working? Do I need a stronger story question? What's wrong with my scenes?

Come to us for clarity!

As practising writers, editors and story coaches, we know what it’s like to feel unsure about an aspect of our writing, or the whole damn lot! We’ve all been there and know we will go there again. It’s part of the writing life.

Our compassionate team offers a fresh, professional opinion for works of long and short fiction, non-fiction and poetry. You’ve got something important to say so we approach your story with care, while at the same time challenging you to develop your best writing.

Our one-on-one services and workshops cover all stages of the writing process. If you don’t see what you need in the offerings below, get in contact to tell us what you need.




Ideas, huh? You have a big one, dontcha? Or a small one that's been simmering for years. Or maybe you have so many ideas you don't know which one to pick.

The trouble is – you could start anywhere.

At A story to tell, we help you find a starting point. Your starting point. Through a series of clever questions, we help you tease out the why and the how of this story that simply must be told. We'll help you blast proctrastination off the page by setting goals and creating a personal, doable process to follow.

Because each writer and each project is different to the next, we take a flexible approach to how we help people turn ideas into action. Essentially, we listen to your thoughts, fears and needs then help you come up with your next steps.

Contact us for more information. Our first 15-minute chat is free. After that, we can arrange to meet on the phone, via Skype or in person to brainstorm ideas or create a writing plan just for you.

Check out our Resources page for plenty of ways to start, continue and keep going! When you’ve completely devoured these resources, tried some of the exercises and written a few thousand words, you’re probably ready for the next stage – short critique.



Our short-critique service is perfect if you're dipping your toe in or have a tight budget.

Short critiques are a quick way for writers to understand their strengths and areas for improvement. We listen to your intentions and goals for the story, then appraise the work and give feedback. After reading the first 5000 to 10,000 words, we provide an extensive written appraisal that beds down the basics of storytelling, such as making scenes, choosing settings and building characters. In this way, you can confidently get on with writing the rest of the story.

Early-career or emerging writers can use this short-critique service as often as they like, each time building on past learning to improve their understanding of how to craft a story.

Every piece of writing is different so we quote according to the sample you send.



‘I’ve finished my first draft!’

Congratulations! Break out the champagne or sit back and have a nice cup of tea …

Now what?

You’ve done all you can do for now. It’s time to hand it over (gently) to an editor/story coach for a manuscript appraisal.

A story to tell manuscript appraisals nurture the growth of the novelist, memoirist, essayist or screen writer. They’re not an anonymous manuscript assessment with no conversation afterwards. In fact, manuscript appraisal is where the conversation begins. Our feedback will challenge you. Our suggestions might surprise you. Our deep understanding of your story means you are no longer alone.

Our appraisals include our reading, reporting and discussing the manuscript with you, always mindful of your intentions. We frame the feedback by drawing on the following elements of craft:

  • Structure & plot
  • Characters (major & minor)
  • Story question & narrative arc
  • Setting & landscape
  • Language, including dialogue
  • Voice & point of view
  • Pace & scenes
  • Symbolism
  • Beginning – is this the best way to start?
  • Ending – is this really the end?

A story to tell manuscript appraisals are not anonymous manuscript assessments. We believe a clear and open relationship between the editor and the writer is vital.

Click here to read our submission guidelines.



You’ve got lots of things to do and are eager to do them. But what's the best order to undertake the tasks?

Story coaches are professional sounding boards primed to help you cultivate the craft and confidence to find your place in the world of words.

Using a story coach as muse, monster or musterer, we create the conditions for your story to find its way. We scrutinise your setting, interrogate the story question and discover the strongest interplay between character and plot. We strengthen your voice.

Story coaching can take many forms ...

  • fortnightly feedback sessions on the climax of your novel
  • chapter-by-chapter analysis of your second draft
  • weekly reminders to help you stick to your goals
  • writing prompts from a coach who knows your work and what you’re striving to achieve.

... all or none of the above.

Let’s chat about what you need.



Is my work ready for a copy edit?

The work is ready for a copy edit if it’s been seen by a professional editor or story coach, you’ve taken their advice and you’ve developed it structurally.

Copy editing looks at the story sentence by glorious sentence. Also known as line-by-line editing, good copy editing improves the work in terms of:

  • Voice – is it consistent?
  • Rhythm – does each sentence, paragraph and chapter flow?
  • Punctuation and paragraphing – is it consistent and does it suit the story?
  • Spelling and grammar – is it consistent in style and are there any errors?

A good copy editor knows language but also gets to know the story’s style so that their lofty knowledge doesn’t get in the way of a good yarn ...



This is the last pass over your work before publication or submitting to a publisher.

Don’t get your mate up the road who’s good at spelling to do it for you. More and more, traditional publishers are wanting submitted stories to be as complete as possible on submission and, if you’re self-publishing, you don’t want to risk any brothersome errors slipping through.

Proofreaders check the manuscript for errors of paragraphing, punctuation, spelling and grammar. A professional editor can spot a misplaced comma from a mile away. It’s worth investing in your work at this important final stage.



After thinking up the idea then writing, rewriting and rewriting again, your manuscript is ready for publication.

You’ve learnt how to write a book, now all you need to know is how to make that book look like a real book! This is where the magic of designing the cover and laying out the pages comes in.

There are two ways A story to tell can help you complete these steps:

  • Download our DIY guide to self-publishing books
  • After reading the guide to self-publishing, you might think, ‘No, I’m done! Can’t someone else take care of the rest?’ If so, get in contact. We’d be happy to manage the last pieces of the puzzle for you, such as cover design, book layout, ISBN numbers, liaising with the printer and checking page proofs.



You're so close

to turning your manuscript into a book,

it's hard to sleep at night!

You've written the manuscript and made it into a book. Now it's time to press send.

Our free guide to self-publishing books summarises the last steps and points you in the direction of a few useful tools. If you find yourself thinking you'd rather start writing your next book than complete the nitty-gritty that is self-publishing, get in contact. We can help you get over the line!


Our role is to help you make the best story you can.

No matter which stage of the writing process you find yourself in, we offer professional guidance on how to move through that stage and closer to your writing goal.