So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel. Congratulations! Time to submit it for publication, right? Errr, wrong! If your manuscript is anything like mine, it’s a sloppy mess riddled with plot holes, inconsistent characters, and grammatical errors. Cleanup on page 4! So grab your mop–er–red pen and follow these simple steps to mop-up your manuscript.
Edit for Content:
Before you even think of tackling punctuation or grammar, you’ll need to improve the content of your manuscript. After all, you’d hate to spend hours, if not weeks, editing grammar and punctuation only to cut them out later on. When editing for content aim for:
- Order of scenes
- Story elements
- Point of view
- Word choice
- Sentence construction & syntax
- Smooth transitions
Making substantive edits such as these could improve the strength of your manuscript. Once these edits are complete, you can move on to the next step.
Edit for Mechanics:
This is the step in which you take care of those pesky grammatical errors. Some things to keep an eye out for are:
- Sentence fragments
- Misplaced and dangling modifiers
- Unclear pronoun references
- Incorrect or unclear pronoun references
- Incorrect capitalization
- Faulty parallelism
- Omitted or extra commas
- Comma splices
- Confused Words
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Once you’ve made these corrections, your manuscript should be in pretty good shape. If you are inexperienced in making substantive edits, you might benefit from studying The Elements of Style, a prescriptive American English writing style guide in numerous editions. The original was composed by William Strunk, Jr. in 1920, but it remains relevant today. For others, like me, mechanics are more or less a headache. Thank goodness for editors, though they can be costly. There are plenty of free resources available to help you improve those skills such as the Purdue Owl website and Grammar Girl, to name a few. (Links to your left)
Anyway, I hope you found this post helpful, and if you did, please feel free to share with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress. Thanks for stopping by!