more exciting and unnerving than finishing edits and getting ready to send in a
manuscript to an agent or editor. Even if you and your critique partners have
gone over your pages several times, doubts still nag.
Did I catch every misspelled word and homonym?
When I made my last edits did I inadvertently cut
out or add another word?
Is my writing the best it can be?
Whether you’re a contracted author or an unpublished
hopeful, there’s always some lingering anxiety when turning
in a manuscript. Over the years I’ve learned a few things to help answer the
above questions and make my manuscript the best it can be before I hit send.
Check for Repetitive/Weasel Words
No matter how many times I think I’m
being creative in my word usage the same words seem to show up in every
chapter, multiple times. Aside from starting my own Repetitive Word List with alternate
synonyms I can choose from at a glance, I’ve been using Notetab light for years,
thanks to a tip from author DiAnn Mills. While I’m sure this free download can
be used for many different things, I use it to calculate my repetitive/weasel
words. In a matter of seconds it calculates how many times (and what
percentage) I use every word in my WIP. Then I identify my overused words and
do a search and replace with the weasel words in all CAPS, so I can identify
that word later in my read through and find an alternate. This search not only
identifies my weasel words, but helps me identify passive writing so I make it
Listen to your Manuscript
No matter how many times I read my manuscript, there always seems to be one more mistake I missed. That’s why I listen to
my manuscript before I turn it in. Even when I think my story is polished, my
ear picks up several mistakes when I listen and read along. Microsoft reader
has a free download where you can import your WIP and have it read back to you.
There are other programs available like Natural reader, and you can even
convert your manuscript into a pdf file and listen to it that way. These are
all free and work fine if you don’t mind the robotic voice, otherwise you can
upgrade for a more humanlike reader.
Do One Last Read Through
listening to my manuscript and making the corrections, there’s always a chance
my fingers added or deleted something unintentionally, so I go over it one last
time. I can really be OCD about checking and rechecking, but no matter how many
times I read or listen to my WIP or have my crit partners look it over, I
always find one more mistake.
Double Check Your Attachment
authors will agree you can edit your manuscript indefinitely and never truly be
satisfied, there comes a time when you have to hit that send button. Still
there’s one more ritual I go through even after I attach the document. I open
up the attachment at least once to make sure I attached the right one. Just the
other day I attached the wrong document because I had several earlier versions of
the manuscript in my folder. Imagine my embarrassment to realize too late that
I sent the wrong document. Thankfully that didn’t happen because I double
checked my attachment.
has their own pre-send ritual, but no matter what you do, you have to hit send
on your manuscript sooner or later. Better find what works for you and be
thorough and confident you’ve just turned in your best story possible, than
have the doubts linger.
you get your manuscript in the best shape possible before you hit send?
Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012.