Stop! Don’t Send That Manuscript

Although you may think you have created a masterpiece on your first draft, it would be wise to revisit your manuscript before you rush to send it to an editor or agent. Few first drafts are ready for their eyes. Here are a few things to look for.

1. Does your manuscript hook the reader? Read the first few paragraphs. Do you immediately draw the reader into your story? If you get a little sleepy reading it, edit! Even if it takes days or weeks to rework those first few paragraphs, do it! An agent or editor will not trudge through page after page of manuscript waiting for something to make them want to read on.

2. Read your manuscript out loud. As you read, are there sentences that “trip” you? By that, I mean do you have to slow down or do you stumble over the way you have phrased a sentence? If you stumble, so will your reader. Reading out loud will help you find those ragged sentences. Change them so some editor or agent won’t “trip” over them.

3. Check your manuscript for the word “and.” Many times, we use this word when there should really be two sentences. See if your manuscript will not be more pristine by taking it out.

4. Realize Spell-check is not enough! Go over your manuscript sentence by sentence. Do you have bear for bare, four for fore. Don’t you just love the English language! Spell-check will not find these types of errors. An agent or editor will!

5. Names. In my own manuscripts and those of others I have critiqued, I find we sometimes change our characters names. In the first 10 pages, your protagonist is named Jessica. A few pages later, she’s Jennifer! If you decided you didn’t like your protagonist’s name and gave her/him another one, it is easy to revert back to the old name. Just be sure your characters have the same names all the way through your manuscript.

All this may have made you decide you don’t want to be a writer after all. It is hard work and boring for most of us to edit our own work. Still, it has to be done. That’s what professional writers do!

More later,

Trying to practice what I preach, Gloria


4 responses to “Stop! Don’t Send That Manuscript

  1. Thanks Gloria! This is great info.

  2. gloriastockstill

    Veronica, don’t you wish we could write our manuscript just once and have it sparkle? I guess that is a dream that will NEVER come true!


  3. Shirley Shibley

    Ah, yes, I remember the “good old days” when I wrote a story and it was done. I wonder how many editors laughed or cried over my poor manuscripts before dropping them in the trash like a dirty pair of ragged socks!


  4. gloriastockstill

    Shirley, I am embarrased at some of the things I sent out. And I thought it was good! Oh, well.


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