The Un-Editorial Notepad #15 – 10 Steps to Good Writing

Posted by Rita Lorraine


Hi Everybody,
I’m back with more UN-editorial notes for aspiring writers who are preparing their manuscripts for submission.

Without further ado (or pomp and circumstance), here are:


1. Don’t just have an idea. WRITE your book.

2. Join a critique group. Your book should be vetted BEFORE you submit it to a professional.

3. Self-Edit, and I don’t mean by using a word-spell program. Do it yourself.

4. Have a good “Word” program. There’s nothing worse than sending a document that no one else can open.

5. Know your word count. If you tell your editor/agent/publisher/critique partner that you’re submitting a 50-page book, they’ll assume it is a 50-page double-spaced manuscript. But if you’re single spacing and you’ve crammed as many words into those pages as is humanly possible, your book is going to be way longer than 50 pages. This will tick off whoever receives the book for editing/critique. Be courteous, give a word count.

6. For goodness sake, know what “double-space” means. It DOES NOT mean to place two spaces between every word in your document. Someone actually did that.

7. Know your genres. Don’t tell your editor/agent/publisher you’re writing a nonfiction children’s picture book when it’s actually fiction – and not even a picture book. Know what you’re talking about.

8. Use your REAL NAME on your email. Or at least place your real name in the Subject Line. There’s nothing more irritating than receiving emails from people you’ve never heard of — especially if the email is from Candyxxx or Big Butt Bertha. I don’t know about you, but I delete those with the quickness.

9. Take your editor/agent/publisher’s advice. Make the changes they suggest, or be ready to explain why you didn’t. But DON’T resubmit your manuscript with the same mistakes.

10. Learn your craft. Don’t sit around and wait for your editor/agent/publisher to make you a writing success. Do some research on the Internet. Find writing classes, writing partners, or professional organizations like SCBWI that can help you hone your skills.

I hope these tips help you in your quest to become a published writer.

Best wishes,
Rita Lorraine

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