Before submitting anything you’ve written to me~PLEASE~
~ Spell check and grammar check. Make sure your spacing is correct between all punctuation.
~ Never submit anything you wrote on the fly. Give each piece at least 12-24 hours to sit, then go over it again.
~ Check your sentence structure:
~ Do your sentences mostly all begin with nouns?
~ Do you repeat the same words (verbs, descriptors, etc) often, sometimes even (shudder) in the same sentence?
~ Have you set the scene? Have you established the who, what, where, when of your scene? Do this with every location, every
scene, without fail.
~ Have you given your scene/paragraph a sniff, a taste, listened to it and looked at it? What I’m saying here is,
is there any sensory description? If not, throw some in. Remember that your audience likes to be able to visualize what you
are writing about. Descriptive phrases are good for your story.
~ Cut, cut, cut! Can your dialogue be cut or deleted and still say the same thing? Can you describe this scene (or the
tree or the smell of the cookies baking or whatever) in less words or sentences?
~ Show, show, show! What is your character doing? What is s/he doing with hands, feet, nostrils, or hooves? (That’s
for those of you writing horse books....)
~ No passive voice. Use ACTIVE verbs, VITAL sentences. Give your work some punch and sparkle!
~ Is there an opening hook?
~ Are the characters interesting and believable? This has to stay true especially in dialogue. Make sure your teenagers
speak the lingo, for instance.
~ Are there appropriate levels of tension? Each chapter doesn't need a cliffhanger ending, but some of them should.
~ Are facts, locales, time period, setting correct or believable? In other words, research.
~ Read aloud before submitting. This helps to find awkward phrasing, etc. And can really freak your family out...
(They wonder who you’re talking to. Ha!)
~ Does the ending leave your readers satisfied (even if the ending unhappy or unexpected)?
~ Don't forget to dress your characters. And it doesn't hurt to feed 'em either!
~ About adverbs and adjectives: less is more.
How I edit:
~ Line by Line:
This is by far the most thorough type of editing, but do not fear! I realize that some writers, especially beginning writers,
are very unsure of themselves, and this kind of editing can devastate them. Of course, I say no personal comments (such as,
I know you can do better than this,) or just ‘Good’ after every few lines.
But I do praise often.
At some point, I will probably ask you what you need to hear from me. I will tell you what I think your strengths
are and I will make suggestions to correct or improve where you need work. I know (being one myself) that writers are
notoriously fragile, though we need to toughen up! Editing is only the first step in a long process of submitting
and sometimes getting rejected.
And as always, when you are submitting, remember: IF IT DOESN’T APPLY, LET IT FLY. Your work is your own, and I am
here to help.