So, you’ve finally finished writing, editing, and rewriting. Your opening, middle and ending are all strong. You’re ready to submit your manuscript. Is there anything more you can do as a final check of your work before you release it? Following are some ideas.
Checklist for final pass
- Favorite words or words you used too often —Most people seem to have and use certain words over and over. They tend to sneak into your writing, no matter how careful you are. Look for these and change any of them that still remain.
- Words/phrases that add nothing to your story or message—These include “at this time”, “at (or in) this moment”, and “in my opinion”.
- Unusual sentence constructions—Unusual sentence structures get noticed. However, be careful that you don’t overuse them.
- Opening line, opening page, and opening chapter sentence—Are these openings as strong as possible? Do they set up the story or message? Establish the tone and/or setting?
- Ending—Is your ending effective, or does is just roll off? Is the last chapter, section, or line memorable?
- Space-holders—Remove any space-holders you used for elements you weren’t sure of when you were writing (e.g., asterisks, blank lines, hash tags). And be sure to fill in the blanks.
- That one section that bothers you—The one that still just doesn’t hum. Try to fix it one more time. If it bothers you, it’s going to bother your readers.
- Chapter breaks—Make sure chapters begin on new pages and that chapter numbers are sequential.
- Manuscript format—Check page numbering and header formatting. Check for consistency of section breaks (e.g., asterisks, hash marks, or simple line spacing).
- Spelling—Word processing programs don’t not catch everything, but run spell check every time you make any
Don’t think of the exercise as editing. It’s just a helpful final step before you submit your manuscript to an editor or agent.
Remember that a few errors will probably get by the best proofreading. But also remember that a few errors won’t likely prevent your manuscript from being accepted. So, submit your manuscript when without making yourself crazy looking for that one last error.
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