Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's all in the Proof

If I asked you all what the most important thing about a submission is, I bet I would get a lot of different answers. Some would say the quality of writing, others would say the plot, some the believability of the characters and still others would say just a plain good story....and every answer is right.

But almost more important than any of those is PROOFING.

You could have a great story, wonderful, engaging characters and a catchy voice but this can be very hard to see through a manuscript that is full of proofing errors.

Now, I'm not talking about complex grammar or even the argumentative commas. What I am speaking of is the most basic, simple things that should be found before you even think about sending in a submission.

Things like:

Spelling errors [yelow, policee, its vs it's, brothers vs brother]

Forgetting to add a quotation mark or period at the end of a sentence
["He's so cute, Helen said. She didn't want to go He made her.]

Spacing between words (or words written together with no spaces) [John didn'twant to go. Jennifer aawas the best kkfriend a girl could have.]

Using the same word over and over again or beginning sentences with the same word [She wasn't going to make it. She would need to run way to fast. She wanted to, but couldn't make it even if she ran as fast as she could.]

As you can see, most are very simple. Things that should easily be found by reading over the final copy. Yet this happens all the time and can be very distracting to an editor reading a manuscript. We want to give you the best chance possible, but when a manuscript comes in that has many simple things that should have been found during a good proof reading, we get concerned right from page one--wouldn't you much rather us be intrigued from page one?

It's exciting to finish a story. It's exciting to press that send button and FINALLY get it onto an editor's desk. But it's MORE important to get it onto our desk in the best possible condition.

Rushing will only get us a manuscript. Taking your time and letting someone else proof read your work for even the most basic things, will get us a good manuscript. Then let your voice and your story have the chance to prove to us that it could be a great manuscript.


Patricia Tanner said...

I agree with Stacy. Nothing pops me out of a submission quicker than simple little mistakes. Ones the author should have cleaned up before the ms came to me.

Mary Ricksen said...

Great info. Put on that spell and grammar check, but go back and look yourself! Many, many times.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Those kind of mistaks realy bother me to.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Seriously, I judge a lot of contests and nothing takes me out of a story faster than little mistakes like that. It can be the best story in the world, but I'll find myself getting all grumpy and irritated with the author because those kinds of things are SO easily caught and fixed.

Tess Thieler said...

I completely agree. Before I let anyone else read my story to help me catch those simple mistakes, I read it out loud and slowly to myself (or my dog, haha)... usually from a printed copy. I have caught so many typos missed by spell check this way.

This post made me think of a quote I read somewhere, especially when it comes to writing romantic fiction: "Where love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece." And we all know that we should "never rush a masterpiece." ;) Great comments everyone!

PS: Rebecca, you made me laugh. :)

Jo said...

I agree with this. We have no excuse these days (I grew up in the manual typewriter era and later had an electric typewriter which could back space and white out an error.) With processors we have spell and grammar checks. I'm irritated by sloppily written mails so how does an editor feel when she receives shoddy submissions? I love your quote Tess!