By: Amanda Gochez
After spending my past few weeks doing homework, reading manuscripts, and editing my own work, I have realized a trend within the manuscripts. As authors, we get excited about what we are writing – which we should! We go through all the motions and emotions of our characters. We become so enthusiastic about our unique creation. And the feeling you have when you finally finish your manuscript? I don’t know about you, but I feel pure and utter happiness, I feel relief, and I feel pride. Plenty of people reach this point of completing their manuscript; how many of them actually do anything with it?
The next step that I do (hopefully you do as well) is I proofread and edit my own manuscript. I am sure all of you writers do that before submitting it to a publisher, which is great. But here is the trend I am noticing; your own editing is not enough! I promise. According to your own eyes, your words are perfect. The word structure is perfect. There is no way this could get any better. Right?…Wrong!
Submitting your manuscript without having any eyes but your own look at it is not a good idea! Heck, have a friend read it if nothing else. Have someone else take a peak because they could catch something you have overlooked at a hundred times. Your first thought after having this brought to your attention very well may be, “Huh, how did I not see that?” It’s simple: you are blinded by your own writing, and your mind fills in the blanks with the logic that you left out of the story. Unfortunately, any other reader can only read your words on the page, and not your mind. Sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, language, and flow are the biggest things I notice while reading manuscripts (including my own). Listen, none of us are perfect. We know that. Publishers know that. But, publishers also want to see effort. They want to observe that you took the necessary time and effort into perfecting your work, and sending a manuscript with your own edits is simply not enough.
You want to incorporate linguistics? Research an accent, and feel free to reference that an accent is present, but don’t try and spell it how you think it would be pronounced. For example, if a character with a French accent is speaking English, it may not read well if you try to phonetically spell their accented words. Also, try to avoid excessive use of choppy sentences. “He sipped his coffee. It was hot.” “Stephen opened the door. The sun was bright.” “She banged her head. It hurt.” You know what else hurt? Those dang sentences. When I am reading a manuscript, I want to visualize. I want imagery. I want a flow of words that make me see and feel that emotion. If the sentences are choppy and it impacts the flow of the story, I don’t want to continue reading it.
So what do I do, as a writer?
I hire an editor to review my manuscript. That’s right. I spend money I don’t have on hiring an editor. Why? Well, I am investing in myself and my work. I believe in my writing, but while I can tell a story, it doesn’t mean I know the ins and outs of editing. I want a trained professional to look at my work and scribble on it. That manuscript that I thought I crafted to perfection? Well when I get it back, I find out each and every time that it wasn’t perfect after all. There isn’t a page that isn’t marked with red. That also includes when my editor sees something she likes. My editor gives me both positive and negative feedback. She gives me possible ideas as well.
Not sure where to go? I go to www.freelancer.com. I love this site! You set up your profile, make your proposal, and insert a sample of your story so prospects can edit it. Therefore, you can see if their editing style is what you like or don’t like. I paid my editor $250.00 the first time I submitted a story to her, and it was a great experience. Since I found someone whose editing I trust, someone who wants to improve my story without changing my story – I go to her each time.
Heed my advice: hire an editor. You will be so glad that you did, as they’ll help you better your creation. Additionally, publishers will see that you took the time to really polish the manuscript and made it the best it can truly be.