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?