Prep your manuscript

Do you dash off a few (or hundreds) of words and send it off to an editor, publisher, agent or contest? I’m sure someone out there has an anecdotal example of doing that and receiving an acceptance. More likely than not you get a rejection of even worse – being ignored.

Steps to follow to get a manuscript ready to make it public.

1) Write the best story you can. Scrub it till it’s in the best possible form.

Follow the standard manuscript format for your genre (check the internet for examples).

2) Run your effort through your critique group. You do belong to such a group, don’t you? They can be one of the most valuable assets to a serious writer.

3) Technical preparation. First on the list is your grammar and spell checker. Remember this is a dumb software program, watch for the pitfalls; errors in grammar suggestions, the difference between their and there don’t show in spell checker.

4) Next, put your work under additional scrutiny. These are extra programs which may or may not be free. READ ALOUD — I use ReadPlease Plus (around $50 USD; although they have a free version) to read the prose to me. I don’t seem to be capable of reading more than one page before I lapse into reading in my head. I’ve picked up even small lapses in my story.

5) I use one more software package: PerfectIt (a payware program). Although it’s basically designed for business writing, it does a great job of pointing out inconsistencies. Example: how many times did I use “mid air” and how many times “mid-air” – there are places where one is correct over the other; but I have the choice of which one to use.

Use these steps and you’ll have a better chance for publication.

Cheers, John

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