So you’ve finished that labor of love and you think you’re ready to send it in to an agent or a publisher. Wait! Not Yet! As a past editor for a publisher, I would like to share with you what I see that really drives me crazy and causes me to cringe. You may have all the spelling errors corrected and think your manuscript is ready to go, but here are a few things that you may want to go over before you drop it in the mail or push the send button.
First of all, read the manuscript backward. Yes, that’s what I said. Start at the end and go backward and look at the words. This will help you find words that are used incorrectly and missing in the sentence. Editing your own work can be difficult because you look at it so much that you see words that aren’t there and they automatically appear in your mind. You want to look for these types of errors first.
Second, pay close attention to point of view. Ideally, you should have no more than one POV change per chapter and you want to make that clear by a blank line or a series of asterisks. I recently worked on a story where the POV shifted 6 times in the first 5 to 6 pages. It was very confusing to keep up with whose head I was in and which character was telling the story. Another thing I would avoid until you are very skilled at it, would be shifting POV from 1st person to 3rd person. I have seen some authors pull this off, but they have been writing for many years and are quite experienced at it. My advice? Just don’t do it.
Watch those commas. Get out the The Little, Brown Handbook and review your rules for using commas. I have seen them abused unmercifully. Poor little commas. Don’t be afraid to just end a sentence and start a new one. While you can get away with not adhering strictly to the rules of grammar, there is only so much a publisher or an agent will tolerate when reviewing your submission.
Finally, avoid using the crutch words that I mentioned in the previous post. Once you have done all that, then have someone else look it over. As I’ve said repeatedly, if you are self-publishing, hire a professional editor. This will make your work more polished and professional.
Best of luck in your writing, but luck won’t help if you’re not taking the extra time fully review your manuscript.
Copyright 2014 by Kelly Abell