Hilferty Writing & Editing

Critique Service

You have spent months laying out and writing your book, only to learn in the end that what you have written will not sell in today's market.  The critique editor says, "Here is what you should do:  Tear it up and start over."

John Hilferty provides the critique that can save you as a writer the letdown of being told after weeks or months of labor that your masterpiece needs a complete overhaul. 

John is a journalist who successfully made the transition to writing fiction with his first novel, Moonlight in Vermont, which was awarded Best in Romance by the National IndieExcellence Awards, and was a finalist in USA Book News awards.

He now helps writers to avoid traps that if not corrected early can lead to months of despair and starting over.

"Writing fiction is like taking a trip," says John.  "Without a proper map, if you make a wrong turn in the beginning, you may drive for miles before realizing how lost you are." 

By carefully reading and dissecting your four-page synopsis and the first 25 pages of your book, or 50 pages of your short story, John sets you on the right path toward development of plot and characters, conflict, pacing, place, narrative  and motivation.  

And answers questions

  • Does your writing voice appear distinct and natural, or is it forced, strained or borrowed?
  • Do you have a command of grammar, proper syntax?
  • What and where are the flat spots and how do you eliminate them?
  • Are your characters real or pasted?  How do they relate with one another?
  • Is the pacing smooth; does the story build toward a plausible climax?
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”  ~Elmore Leonard

For non-fiction writers

John's background in journalism helps turn scholarly works of pedantry to
writing that comes alive and keeps the reader turning the pages.  In short, he makes your work marketable.

"Making the transition from a journalistic to a literary style was enormously difficult for me," said John.  "After years of writing tight ledes — telling the story up front in as few words as possible — in writing fiction you are asked to compose a symphony.”


“Thank you so much for your first-rate critique.  “I felt the first chapter especially did not launch the story well, but could not get a handle on why--your critique did the job of lighting the way.  I've written scholarly books,  textbooks, and articles as a university professor, but fiction is a totally different ballgame.   Your critique is just great work, for which I am eternally grateful!

“You have done this draft and me a great service.” — Raymond Duncan 

“All I can say is... wow! 
Thank you so much for your specific comments, helpful, concrete advice, and inspirational message . . .  I am so appreciative of your time and insights.” — JK

“Thank you so much for your gentle mixing of encouragement and critique.  Very informative and helpful.  I continue to write.” — KG

 “Your critique was thoughtful and extremely helpful. I greatly appreciate the time and energy you put into your review. I plan to spend next week editing . . . and your comments will be invaluable during that process.” — JK

How much?

$40 minimum plus $20 for the second and each hour to a maximum of $100.
E-mail your work to hilf@johnhilferty.com
or phone John:  802-496-3296

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
— Robert Benchley

John’s Credentials

John's first novel, Moonlight in Vermont, was named by the National Indie Excellence Awards as the best Romance novel of 2007.  

As a journalist, he shared a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for The Philadelphia Inquirer's 
coverage of the Three Mile Island Nuclear accident.  His writing and editing background in journalism includes politics, organized crime, courts, cops, travel and human interest. 

He shared the Associated Press Managing Editor's Award for The Inquirer's
investigation into the murder of Philadelphia Mafia Boss Angelo Bruno.

His travel essays have won Gold and Silver Medals as the best newspaper travel columns by the National Mature Media Awards.

His latest novel, From the Dead, is a fictional account of the disappearance of Teamsters’ Boss Jimmy Hoffa.   John wrote about the New Jersey connection to Hoffa's disappearance, particularly an unsecured $85,000 loan of Teamsters health & welfare funds to a waste disposal company in Michigan where Hoffa's body was to have been incinerated.

John is also the co-author with his photographer-wife, Ellie, of  The Mad River Valley of Vermont, and Skiing in the Mad River Valley, both published by Arcadia.

All photos © Ellie Hilferty

Page updated May 29, 2012