Are you thinking of self publishing? Are you thinking of submitting your work to a publisher? Before you send in your love child, or hit publish on CreateSpace, make sure it is quality work.
I know, how dare I suggest that your baby is anything less than solid gold. It just needs a bit of . . . . polish. And maybe a fresh diaper.
There are a few basic things we can do for ourselves that will help us move towards that ‘quality work’.
- Don’t rely solely on spellcheck. There, their, and they’re are all correct words, but not necessarily the correct usage. Spellcheck doesn’t catch when you have a “real word” even if it is the wrong word. ‘Dierdra wore satan panties’ has a completely different context than ‘Dierdra wore satin panties’. (Where do you even get satan panties? Is that a Sam and Dean special order?)
- Grammar – whether it’s a dangling modifier, ending with a preposition, pronoun explosion, or comma vomit please, please, PLEASE check your Grammar. I know for myself I have issues with pronoun explosion. There will be four she statements, referring to three different females and since the reader can’t see inside my head it leaves them going HUH?
- Overused words / Repetitious words. I once did an editing job on a fascinating fantasy story. The author was definitely a storyteller, but his pages were filled with numerous repetitions of all. All of the children gathered at the feet of the great bard as he began to tell all of his tales. They all sat enraptured by his every word. All eyes were glued to the elderly stooped man with the cane, all of his hair as white as snow. In one chapter alone, there were 200 alls. I sent him back the manuscript and said, please fix these issues and pointed out a few more, then when he returned it to me I could properly edit the story. I have a problem with just . . . and a couple of other words. . . and pronouns. . . and sentence fragments. . . moving on.
- Changing perspective – This is a twofold problem. A) head hopping – changing perspectives from one character to another. This is a common practice in a romance, because the reader needs to hear both characters perspectives. When you change perspectives from different characters make certain that you indicate in some fashion that you are switching characters. B) Changing from first person to third and back again. The author needs to stay consistent.
- Punctuation Are the quotations where they are supposed to be? Are the question marks where they are supposed to be? Oh yes, the comma vomit. You do not need a comma every place that you take a breath, every pause that we take in thinking. We do not, talk, like William Shatner. Nor, do we want to read, as, if, our characters, were talking, like him. Where did all those semicolons come from? Instead of the semicolon maybe use the em dash.
- Suspension of Disbelief – If your bridge doesn’t span the gap it needs revision. There are some plotholes that I don’t believe it is possible to build a bridge long enough to span, or else the black hole that the gap has created sucks everything inside creating antimatter. Don’t even get me started on the quantum physics and time travel equations.
- Read it aloud! Or if you have a willing partner in crime, have them read it aloud to you! You will hear the mistakes that you wouldn’t catch otherwise. For instance that magically reappearing bra.
If you follow these simple seven steps you’ve increased your odds of obtaining that quality work and made your editors job better. Just think, if they can focus on storyline issues instead of trying to choke down yet another page of comma vomit, the sea of red may only be a tidal pool.