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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

8 Tips~ How To Please Important People With Your Writing

*WARNING~This is a post on technical issues in writing—no, no! Come back! Technical items can be fun to learn about too!!!*

I recently read a fabulous blog post by Alison Janssen about how to please your editor.

What’s that? You don’t have a book contract? Or even an agent? I’m in the same boat, and still found this helpful. The eight tips are fabulous for agented and unagented authors alike.

These are things that you can incorporate to have a more presentable manuscript. Most of the tips are simple technical changes/improvements you can make that we ‘creatives’ may tend to dismiss, ignore, or have no clue about.

Content trumps all (because having technically squeaky-clean pages with no plot probably won't help you), but there's nothing wrong with having as crisp a manuscript as possible when making the query/submission rounds...and you'll save yourself some time and please your editor once you land that deal!

Make Your Editor Love You By Checking Your...

(Scroll to the bottom for a link to the full post, which you should definitely read)


1. Word consistency: Decide if you're going to use "okay" or "OK" and stick with it.

2. Emdashes: Don't use single or double hyphens (--) to represent emdashes (—)

3. Apostrophes : Apparently the Word program interprets apostrophes incorrectly on words like 'em (as in, "Go get 'em boys!"). See the post for a solution.

4. Single Spaces after Sentences: Yup—it's one space after sentences in the vast majority of cases now. I was totally oblivious of this until a few months ago. I grew up doing two spaces and never got the memo...FYI, it will NOT get you a rejection if your manuscript currently has two spaces after a period, so don't stress about it too much. Just consider changing your habit in the future :)

5. Page Breaks: Learn about them. Use them.

6. Tabs: She mentions that this one may not apply everywhere, but that you should NOT use the Tab key to indent paragraphs. You should set the paragraph indentation individually, so that you hit Enter, it automatically indents to the right place. This one hit home for me. I always used the Tab key.

7. Timeline: This is a basic (chronological) list of events that you can share with your editor.

8. Character Bible- I don’t have a full bible, but I do keep a Word document of character sketches.

There you go~ hopefully you got something from this! Click HERE for the full post at a fun group blog where Alison Janssen posts on Thursdays.

24 comments:

  1. Yikes, now I feel like I should go put my head back in the sand. My writing program doesn't allow for emdashes and is a bit of a pain about indents. And I always put two spaces after a sentence. That will be a hard habit to break. See.

    Thanks for sharing! I have some work to do, obviously.
    Vicki

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  2. Absolutely YES to all of the above. I check for all of these things in my crit partners's manuscripts.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Great advice, and I'm looking forward to reading the full post. The one I have problems with is leaving just one space between sentences. I learned to type using two spaces, and I don't know how I'd unlearn it! (Notice I have carefully edited this response, leaving a single space between sentences.)

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  4. UGH the double spaces get me everytime. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Saw that post and bookmarked it! It was awesome.

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  6. I grew up with single spaces, so no prob there. However, I can't seem to make my Word do a dash rather than -- (must be a setting I can't find). I don't, however, see what diff an auto tab would make. How would the editor even know which you used? Hmm.

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  7. whoa! great suggestions! bookmarked! :) thanks jess!

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  8. Some interesting things here that I didn't know and hadn't thought about. I will have to come back and study this a bit more.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

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  9. I'd better get over there ASAP!

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  10. Em dashes and page breaks--off to figure them out, thanks to you! Appreciate the links and info'...

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  11. Wow! There's so much to learn all the time. Will I ever get it all down? :) Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Great post. I'm in the whole process of editing and querying, so I've been doing a bit of research on all this type of stuff, and I definately agree with everything said.

    <3 Gina Blechman

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  13. Why on earth have we stopped double spaces? We still teach students to do this in school. No memo for me.

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  14. Great list of technical writing tips. I heard about the 1 space after a period a few years ago and have trained myself to do that.

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  15. A character bible! A timeline! Oh, sounds like great fun for this girl who sometimes spend too much time organizing/outlining to avoid real writing! Will def. check out that link :)

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  16. Ah, great post! I can always tips like this. Now I just need a whole new brain to store them in *looks around* LOL:)

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  17. This checklist and link are gold! I'm in the middle of reformatting my MS to follow these rules. Tedious, but well worth it in the end. Thanks for the tips, Jess.

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  18. I just can't lick that "two space" nasty habit of mine! That's how I type...now I have to think about it? :) But, these are great to know. I have issues with emdashes, too... Thanks for the list!

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  19. Ooh, didn't know about the auto-tabbing, thanks for the heads up! Better read the whole thing.

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  20. I was on the two spaces after each sentence bandwagon as well. I was shocked when I found out it's only one now, but not I'm used to it. :) I didn't even know what an emdash was until a few months ago. Now I love 'em! :D

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  21. These are great tips! I never do the last two, but that would probably help - especially when revising. I'll think about how to approach that.

    Thanks for another helpful post! :-)

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  22. These tips are so amazing, and I had a couple of duh moments. I now use the page break (why didn't I think of that?) but can't figure out how to stop tabbing. I use Pages on my Mac instead of Word. I'll figure it out some time! Thanks you!

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