“Goodness! How Could I Have Submitted That Manuscript?”
Last Thursday, I had a weird experience. I read a manuscript that I hadn’t worked on in almost two years. What surprised me were the errors I found. I was glad my sense of humor didn’t leave me. I thought, “Goodness! How could I have submitted that manuscript?”
What you have to remember is that you submitted the best manuscript you could write with the knowledge, skills, and ability at that time you had at that time. At the time I submitted it, it was the best I could do.
Here’s what I discovered:
1. Use of “ing”
He was starting to tremble.
You say, “Come on, Joan. Surely, you only did that once.”
My answer: Nope. I can truthfully say that I did it through all 30 pages of my short story manuscript. It reads much better without those “ing” words. It also gets rid of the passive voice.
Wrong: He was starting to tremble.
Better: He started to tremble.
Even Better: He trembled.
Wrong: He was going to the graveyard.
Better: He went to the graveyard.
Wrong: He was fixing to start writing.
Better: He wrote.
2. I didn’t note the emotions of the people. I wrote the name of the
Emotion words are clues. Instead of using the name of the emotion as a crutch in your story, use action to show the emotions. It helps make stories come alive.
Wrong: Mary was scared.
Correct: Mary crept behind a boulder so that Snarsky couldn’t find her.
Here’s a neat color wheel going from lighter emotions on the outside to deeper emotions on the inner circle. It doesn’t show actions, but it does give other words that might help you remember actions associated with those emotions. (This is on a Do 2 Learn website. Their philosophy is you must do to learn. So true.) http://www.do2learn.com/organizationtools/EmotionsColorWheel/index.htm
3. The version in front of me was in third person. However, many first
person pronouns muddled my manuscript.
When I found these errors. I used find and replace. Don’t do a replace all. Look at each one and make a decision.
Wrong: I knew what to do.
Correct: He knew what to do.
Wrong: He went to my room.
Correct: He went to his room.
I hope these errors give you a chuckle and encourage you to let a manuscript rest before you revise it. What you discover will help create a new version that shines.
Thanks for reading my blog. Let me know the errors you find in your manuscripts. Celebrate your willingness to revise. It is in revision that we find the true meaning and reason for writing the story in the first place.
P. S. I submitted Version 20 of the Golden Arm to the monthly contest on Spinetinglers.co.uk at about 1:00 a.m. on December 3, 2012. Hip Hip Hooray. Thanks for cheering me on. I didn’t win. I will try again.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards