Good Moaning. This week I won’t to continue my discussing of common writing errors us see in submissions. First let me kneecap my past few dogs. Make sure your readers know who you’re pronouns refer to, because if she says to him while talking to her “Butt, the time travel clock has stopped and now I must await the next dick” it’s really necessary for the reader to know who she is talking to. Next, Chekov’s Gun suggests that 1 should not include any unnecessary elements in a story. So you should not mention the pecker shaker unless it’s impotent, in which case you should shake it for all it’s worth. We then talked about why you need to vary your sentences length and not to use too many long very complex sentences, because if you write like that too often your reader might get confused, and then they will have to go back and reread your righting over and over and over again, and they may get lost and not recall what was following the butt because it was following just too close with no brake in the action as it waited for the next dick from the time travel clock. See Ken prattle. Prattle, Ken, prattle. Finally we talked about levels of diatribe.

“You shouldn’t use said too often to say what a character has said when he is saying something, especially if you can identify the speaker in another way,” Ken said smugly.

“Is it better if find other words for said?” the editor pontificated questioningly.

“No,” said Ken knowingly, “it’ll just sound like you broke out a stegosaurus to try and help your writing; right after you mentioned the pecker shaker.”

“I guess I’ll just go back and try to figure out what followed the butt before the dick of the time travel clock,” the editor mused confusingly.

“Oh, and be careless when using adverbs because that’s not really showing, it’s still telling” Ken said approvingly.

I know this may sound dominating, but when submitting yourself please use goof grammar and punctuality. Pooper writing shows you are a professional whom takes your writing serially. Also, manuscripts with a large number of errors are a distraction, just like the dick of a clock…

§ § §

By the way, the above did pass the spelling and grammar checks for Microsoft Word. Also, with the exception of “Good Moaning” (which is from the British comedy Allo, Allo), most of these are mistakes I’ve actually seen in manuscripts. In case you’re curious, the current record for a submission is 147 words in a single sentence.

First impressions are everything. You always want your work to be portrayed in the best light, and a manuscript riddled with errors like the above example doesn’t do that. If a publisher needs to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what an author meant because the manuscript contains too many errors, there is a good possibility the publisher will just reject the manuscript. As I’ve stated before, it’s hard to enjoy a manuscript with so many with errors—unless it’s written that way on purpose.



Filed under For Authors

8 responses to “Proofreading…

  1. I think leaving a reply with syntax error would be to cliche and expected, so I’ll only say job well done.

  2. My big comment would be that, as ou said, Microsoft Word and OpenOffice Word will approve nearly everything. I can’t count how many times I’ve done spell check on an essay only to get it back with “Spo” instead of “so” underlined with a corrective pen and an upset professor. In fact, my internet has a spell check for comment boxes and “spo” is currently breezing by. So us writers need to watch our own spelling.

    And you saw each of those except “good moaning” in actual manuscripts?

    • I actually came up with the one about the “pecker shaker”, although we did receive a poem with the line “As I watched the clock, waiting for the next dick”. And yes, we do get manuscripts where the dialog is pretty much what you see there, complete with the adverbs. Also, we once received a query where the author was hoping to “submit to me for my unending pleasure”…

      Another common mistake I see is that Word will sometimes suggest a semicolon to replace a comma even though it’s wrong, and people will change it to what Word suggests (that’s actually what happened when I used a comma for “to try and help your writing; right after you mentioned”).

      • Well, was it good enough of a manuscript to provide unending pleasure?

        Wait, was “another common mistakes I see” also a joke or was that an actual error? I can’t tell thanks to this wacky context. In any case, I just use the squiggly red line as an indicator anyway, since Word, while identifying “spo” as a proper English word, will still reject most words and proper names in Old Norse, and is therefore useless to me most of the time.

  3. Very good article. Funny and informative at the same time! I think a lot of writers think that spelling and grammar is left for the editors, but if you won’t take the time on your manuscript why should a publisher?

  4. Issues of this sort all seem to point out that you’re still trying to gain writers from DEP’s MMO, am I correct? The type of mistakes demonstrated and the attached air of egotism you’ve depicted scream of that place. Although, I must commend you on the pulchritudinous mastery of pontification you seem to possess, haha.

    Your post was a jolly-good read, and I have to count myself amongst your fans now.

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