In the submission process, everyone knows the first sentence—not to mention the first few chapters—must be a grabber. Writers polish and repolish these pages. Some even have them professionally edited. But what about the rest of the manuscript?
I can’t tell you how many times we have requested a full manuscript only to ultimately reject it because of numerous minor editing problems. There are so many reasons for a manuscript to be rejected. Don’t let technical problems, such as punctuation and grammar, be among them.
Do not, for instance, rely on spell check. It will tell you if a word is spelled incorrectly but not if it’s used incorrectly. For example, spell check is unaware of homophones, such as here/hear, eye/aye, and heel/heal.
As long as I have your attention, I’m going to mention one more time my number one pet peeve: overused words. Over years of reading and editing, I’ve found these to be the biggest problem words for authors:
These are often referred to as crutch, or habit, words, but any word at all can be overused. You use a certain word once, get it stuck in your head, and somehow it keeps popping up, and the result is an irritable editor. As a writer, I’m quite familiar with this little problem, as I do it so often myself.
My final piece of advice is that an author’s two best friends should be a good thesaurus and the Chicago Manual of Style.
Until next time—happy writing.
Helen A Rosburg