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!
Trying to practice what I preach, Gloria