Spit-shining a Manuscript

It’s Thursday, but after the holiday season, I’m out of volunteers. If you’d like to have 500 words of your current WIP used for an upcoming Red Pencil Thursday, please drop me an email through my Contact page. But in the meantime, since I’m deep in polishing mode on Touch of a Rogue (Brava, Feb. 2012) I’ll share my final preparations before I send in a manuscript to my editor.

First, I let my trusted beta reader and critique partner take a look at it. A second and third pair of eyes is invaluable. Notice I didn’t choose a family member to do this. I need opinions that are a little more disinterested. My DH would read my work, but he’s not my target audience. He also wants to continue sleeping with me, so he might not feel he can be as candid with his suggestions.

I give myself at least a week away from the story. Christmas fell perfectly in my writing schedule to give me a break from this manuscript. Once I came back to it, I skipped through the manuscript, noting all my beta reader and crit partner’s observations. I agreed with some comments and made changes. Others I left as they were. As I counsel the volunteers for RPT, ultimately, the writer is the only one who knows how her story should be told.

Then I start my read-through. I read aloud, listening for word echoes or awkward sentence structure. I tighten my prose wherever I can. I catch inconsistencies in dialogue or characterization. I cut adverbs with viciousness. I run spell check over the whole thing.

I ask myself how I can make my scenes pop more, if I can add sensory details. I look for passive voice, head-hopping and other faux pas. Then once I’m satisfied it’s as good as I can make it right now, I’ll send it in. Since my editor is expecting TOUCH OF A ROGUE tomorrow, time is nipping at my heels a bit.

There are always ways to improve a manuscript. If my editor requests revisions, I’ll get another crack at it. Then I get to negotiate with the copy editor over details and nitpicks. Finally, I’ll make one last sweep for typos in the proof pages.

Good thing I love my characters. They’re going to be with me for a long time!

If you’re a writer, what trick helps you prepare a manuscript for submission? If you’re a reader, have you ever been pulled out of a story by a problem that should have been smoothed over by the writer before the book went to print?

4 thoughts on “Spit-shining a Manuscript

  1. MiaMarlowe says:

    Glad you enjoyed your HEA!

  2. Nynke says:

    Obviously, the author had no chance to correct her errors, much less any added errors by the translator. But I think most of the errors were there in the original…

    Changing names, that is very strange! But bound to happen every now and then, I guess.

    By the way, I’ve finished the novel by now and am basking in the afterglow of the HEA. Nice :). I do believe translations read even faster than the original, and sometimes it approaches the speed of light! ;)

  3. MiaMarlowe says:

    If it’s a translation, there’s even less chance the author had any say in those errors. Though, we are responsible for fixing as much as we can. Ultimately it’s our names on the cover. The buck stops with us.

    Once I was yanked out of a story because a characters name was different in one place, something like Penelope instead of Julia. It was obvious to me the author had changed the character’s name at some point and hadn’t caught them all.

  4. Nynke says:

    I get pulled out by glaring factual and linguistic errors… And unfortunately, being a language geek, I get glared at by linguistic errors quite vehemently ;). I’m reading a fairly old viking romance, and so far, it’s hit both my pet peeve buttons. First, it shamelessly mixes Old Norse with modern Norwegian (and unfortunately, some special characters, such as þ and ø, have got lost somewhere between the original source and the translation of the novel I’m now reading). I know I’m one of approximately 1 to 5 readers in the whole world who would notice that, and it’s tough to get right. But on top of that, the protagonists are thinking and talking about pumas and hummingbirds! Wrong continent altogether…

    fortunately, I quite like the story and its characters, so I’ll let myself be pulled in again right after posting this :).
    Good luck with all the editing!

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