The following tips are some that have been reconstructed from a handout I gave at one of my workshops for writers already far along in their manuscripts. On the registration form I asked what each attendee would most like to learn. Surprisingly, the frequently mentioned information pertained to feeling insecure about submitting once the manuscript was finished, and how would they know it was ready for submission.
In order to help avoid rejection of your manuscript, you need to think through what you’ve created. Start by analyzing these points before submitting.
Does your story start off strong enough to grab a potential reader’s attention?
Does your plot contain enough twists and turns to keep the reader from knowing the ending beforehand? Or is your story so predictable that it might be boring?
Does any possibility exist that you’ve created a story that creeps along, when it should fly and keep the reader turning pages?
Do you know the difference between a slow moving, arduous read and a story that moves like lightning where the reader has difficulty keeping their eyeballs in their sockets?
Have you included your own opinions in the plot sequences instead of allowing the scenes and characters to write themselves?
Are you preachy and trying to make a statement concerning something in which you believe and wish to share? Have no doubt. It is a definite turn-off and will show in your writing.
Have you developed your story to its fullest potential? If not, that would be the same as a detective having four clues and investigating only three. Whatever happens in your story, make sure you cover all aspects and possibilities of each scene.
What about your narrative voice? Is it different from your characters’ dialogues? Does it sound realistic or forced?
Always be careful of clichéd writing, and the use of stale jargon. Use only the most recent language of the time period of your plot that people in real life would use if they were your characters. To have a story taking place in present time, but using age-old language just doesn’t work. That’s unless the author shows that their particular story requires it.
Does each and every scene pull in the reader? Are the scenes developed so the reader knows when and where things happen and how the characters fit into that scene? In other words, have you written the scenes well enough so the reader will feel a part of it all and not know that they sit in a chair reading a book?
Do you have the appropriate beginning, middle and ending? As already stated, the beginning should grab the reader’s interest and make them want to keep reading. The middle may sag if you’ve simply tried to flesh out the story by adding inappropriate information that doesn’t feed into and forward the plot. The ending should be dramatic or contain the element of an Aha! experience. Whatever the experience, the reader must feel satisfaction for the characters when the story concludes.
Are your characters’ dialogues commensurate with the types of people you’ve created them to be? Do all your characters sound the same? Even if all your characters share the same backgrounds and social status, you must make each of them unique. One of the easiest places to accomplish this is through their dialogues.
As with the story line, the same applies to the characters. Are they lackluster predictable types?
Do your characters perform to the best of their abilities while moving through the plot? They can be demure to dastardly, but whatever they are, make them true to type and the best that they can be for the situation in which you’ve placed them.
Have you had your finished manuscript edited by a new set of eyes, preferably professional ones? A relative or friend critiquing your manuscript just isn’t enough – unless the person is an English teacher, perhaps.
Too, here’s something I do:
I have my final manuscript in one long file. I do a search for various important words that I may have used throughout the book. When I find too many of one word, I replace some of them with a different word or phrase with the same meaning. To read the same words too often begins to make the writing seem amateurish, as if the author had not seen the inside of a dictionary or thesaurus.
Lastly, these are some suggestions that should be thought through before submitting your work to agents or publishers. This information also applies to short story and novella writers, even some nonfiction. Much of this information may have crossed the mind of the writer way before getting to the end of the writing phase. In that case, that author is a huge step ahead and their manuscript will show it.
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