Happy New Year! We’re updating our submissions process with a more user-friendly format. While we’re at it, we want to pass along twelve tips to help you prepare your manuscript for submission.
- Create questions that pull readers from page to page, and answer all of them by the end.
- Create a compelling conflict, and show how your characters grow and change as a result.
- Make the theme apparent and able to be summarized in three words or less.
- Give your story a beginning, middle, and end: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.
- Study the genre of your book, and include enough elements in your story to satisfy readers of that genre.
- Include subplots to add dimension and complexity to your story but not so many that it loses direction.
- Look for portions of text that tell rather than show. If the passage is important and you want it to make an impression, convert it to a scene, including dialogue and/or action.
- On a style sheet, list names of characters, streets, stores, cities, and so forth, and make sure they’re consistent throughout and don’t suddenly change midway.
- Also on the style sheet, make a time line and ensure that events occur in a logical sequence and take adequate time.
- Use “said” for all dialogue tags, and don’t use an adverb with “said.” If it’s apparent who is speaking, you don’t have to use a dialogue tag.
- Do a search for “ly” to find verb and adverb combinations that can be simplified as one strong verb. “Walked quickly” could be rewritten “strode.”
- Finally, run spell check and grammar check. It takes time, and your computer can’t catch everything. For example, it might not tell you that you used “pour” when your character is supposed to “pore over a book,” but it will catch enough errors to make this time investment worth your while. An editor expects to see that you put significant effort into making your manuscript as clean as possible. We won’t know if you've used digital spelling and grammar checks, but it will be evident if you haven’t.
We look forward to reading your work in 2012.