Goodness! How Could I Have Submitted That Manuscript?


“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.

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.

Third Person

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 www.Spinetinglers.co.uk at about 1:00 a.m. on December 3, 2012. Hip Hip Hooray.  Thanks for cheering me on. It’s the third person version. I retain the rights. They choose winners and pay 100 pounds or American dollar equivalent for first place and lesser amounts for other winners. They publish online and to a printed anthology once a year that my story might be chosen for even if it doesn’t win 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th place.  I should find out by January 1st or before if I won or not.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

100 subscribers. Adding more reasons to subscribe with every post. Are you subscribed? If not, sign up in the left hand column. A prize designed by me for each subscriber coming soon.

To celebrate 100 subscribers, read my interview on Linda Andersen’s blog to learn how I loved telling stories to my family even when I was a little girl and how family experiences influenced my stories.

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

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22 Responses

  1. I had to laugh. I’m looking through my old manuscripts and uncovering too much use of ‘-ing also. It plagues us all!

    Like

    • Dear Juliana,
      I’m glad you laughed. Laughter is good for the soul and for health, too. We need to find an vaccination to get rid of this -ing that’s plaguing us!
      Thanks for writing and sharing.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  2. Joan,
    A sense of humor sure does help. I’m struggling with my story and now I know what I have to do. Once again you have helped me. And, I hope you submit that manuscript.

    Like

    • Dear June,
      Thanks for writing. It does help when you can laugh. When you realize what you have to do, it’s half-done. Hip Hip Hooray for you! I plan to re-submit my manuscript now that it sparkles again. Thanks for always encouraging me.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  3. I sent a manuscript out once Joan that was the old one before correcting. I thought I was sending the good one, but then realized what i did. We all make mistakes; life goes on lol. The ing and ly words are a killer. We all need to “fling the things quickly from our writings slowly but surely”; pun intended.

    Like

    • Dear Susan,
      Thanks for writing. Oh my goodness! I can imagine your agony in discovering you’d sent the unrevised edition. Did you send the revised one? If not, I hope you dust it off, revise it again and send it off. I sent a manuscript for a contest with my name on every page! Needless to say, it was disqualified. I usually put my heading on the manuscripts. I looked at page one when I printed it out. No headings. But aha, the second page told the tale. Enjoy your day.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  4. Joan,
    We all improve with practice, practice, practice. Aren’t we glad? By the way, thanks for linking to my blog so people will visit the interview you have up.

    Like

    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you for writing. You are right. We all improve with practice, practice, practice. You’re welcome for my linking to your post so they could read my interview on your blog. You have a fun blog. They might want to go back to visit again.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  5. Joan,
    Thank you for being so brave and sharing this with us! It is helping me with my current manuscript.

    Like

    • Dear Kathleen,
      Thank you for writing. You’re welcome for my being brave and sharing this post with you. I’m glad it helped you with your current manuscript. Good luck with it. Soon your work will shine again!
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  6. I mix 1st and 3rd person a lot, lol.

    Like

    • Dear Kitty,
      Thanks for writing. I appreciate it. Do you think we mix first person and third person a lot because we imagine we are the character when we write? That might explain it. I am more comfortable writing in first person. It’s like I have to translate in third person. Enjoy your writing. You are a great writer.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  7. We all need to let our work gestate. I have a problem with being arrogant about my work and thinking it doesn’t need further polishing. Silly me. Sarah

    Like

    • Dear Sarah,
      Thanks for writing. Like great wine, letting our work age a little before revising it, helps us taste the beauty of the manuscript and delete or transform the other. When you are ready, you will polish. Sometimes a little arrogance means you need a different project for awhile.
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  8. … and then do a search for ‘look’. it’s horrifying!

    Like

    • Dear Widdershins,
      Thanks for the hint. I’ll add this to my workshops on revision. Oh my goodness! I found 12 of them. It’s definitely horrifying in 3,945 words. Synonyms here I come.
      Celebrate your willingness to share.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  9. I know what you mean. I blog five days a week, and if I posted my work the minute I finished it, all would be lost! I have a personal rule that I rarely break: everything must rest overnight before going public. I make some exceptions, but very few.
    One of the problems I find almost every time I do a “morning-after” edit is mismatched tense. Within a single paragraph, I often mix present and past tense. I have learned not to worry about it on the first draft, but I never catch all the issues as I edit the same day. I almost always find at least one tense mis-match the next day.
    Unfortunately, even if I edit the next day, I still miss things. I appreciate your encouragement to recognize that when I finally hit “publish” I am sending out the best I have to offer at that time. I always appreciate the fact that you can critique with a positive flavor. Thank you.

    Like

    • Dear Qathy,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad there are people like you who understand. Hurray for the update feature on the blogs. If I find an error, I can change it. I have done that many times.
      You’re correct. It helps to let a blog sit overnight in the draft department before you hit the publish button. Present and past tense are easy to get mixed up, probably because your mind is used to one more than the other.
      Roxie Hanna and other critiquers and editors suggest reading a manuscript starting at the end and working backwards. This might help you find the tense words that are out of place.
      Keep up the good posts on your blog. I’m glad that my encouragement to recognize when you finally hit “publsh” that it’s the best you have to offer at that time. Being kind to yourself helps you get more done.
      Thanks for saying I critique with a positive flavor. I am bowing humbly.
      Celebrate you and your gift of humility.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  10. Been there, done that!

    Like

    • Dear Gretchen,
      Thank you for writing. Is it safe to say that most writers have been there and done that?
      I’m very proud that you got your book published about the school house stories. If we had a penny for each mistake we’ve found in our manuscripts, we would be very rich, wouldn’t we?
      Celebrate you and your gift of being inquisitive.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  11. Joan, pat yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made as a writer.

    The most cringe-worthy thing I can bring to mind offhand are the original plot notes for “Relocated.” Thank goodness I didn’t stick to that outline.

    Like

    • Dear Margaret,
      Thank you. You are a great encourager. I patted myself on the back as you suggested. Our minds lead us to where we want to go, step by step. Slowly it changes our perspective to make changes to get to our goals. Hurray for your success with getting “Relocated” published and your rave reviews. Awesome.
      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

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