Getting your work published can be a tricky and daunting experience. One of the most important elements to getting published is to submit a clean manuscript with as few errors as possible.
As an amateur writer; however, there are more rules to breaking into the published world than there are for established writers. Knowing what these rules are, and how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls could be the difference between an acceptance and a rejection.
A book that I have found monumentally helpful in picking out errors that I might otherwise overlook is “Don’t Sabotage Your Submission: Insider Information from a Career Manuscript Editor to Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.” by Chris Roerden.
This book doesn’t just tell you what not to do as a novice writer (these tips are applicable to seasoned writers as well), it explains why you shouldn’t do them. And they’re sound reasons. Roerden provides concrete examples illustrating something to avoid in your novel, and then tells you how to fix them. She then provides a correction to the sample passage using the techniques she’s offered.
In her book, Roerden tackles pitfalls like prologues, deceptive dreams, and backstories along with advice on smaller details such as clichés, commonly misused words, and the most unnecessary words found in manuscripts.
Of all the great and useful information provided in this book, by far my favorite part is the “Find & Fix Clues” at the end of each chapter, where she bullet points specific problems to search for in your manuscript, and explains how to fix them.
Having key words to search for that are usually linked to a problem helped me identify issues and smooth them out. I used the tips from this book to edit my novelette, “Alger’s Dimension,” and I plan to use it to edit my novel. With the novelette, when I started, I had already spent so much time editing the piece, so I couldn’t tell if I was making the piece better or turning it into mud. After I went through the entire book and used all the tips that were applicable to my novelette though, I could tell the piece was considerably stronger, and it reduced my word count by 2,000 words, which made it marketable to more literary magazines.
Leave your thoughts below. What editing books have you found useful? What struggles are you facing with editing?