As I scurried around getting ready for my family guests on Christmas Day, I did notice some similarities between that and getting a manuscript ready.
Get the House Ready - Pick up, Put away, Throw Away. My husband and I were quite busy during the holiday season, which meant clothes, papers, all sorts of items went where they shouldn’t be in the house. For our guests to move comfortably about in our home, the clutter had to be dealt with. I hung up clothes, put away my writing notes in a container for future reference, threw away old notes no longer needed, cleared the dining room table of excess objects, put away or threw away all sorts of stuff that we’d thought important at the time but no longer was.
(Also picked up dog toys and bones and put them in a container so no one would trip over them. Our darling dog is as sloppy as her masters.)
Get the Manuscript Ready – Make sure what you’ve written follows logical sequence. Don’t add excess descriptions that take away from what you’re trying to convey. Make sure the dialogue also advances the plot. You don’t want readers to skip over sections in your book because of too much clutter.
Cleaning – Once I’d cleared the tables and floors, I got out the mops, brooms, sponges, window cleaner, disinfectant, other cleaning paraphernalia and put them to use so the areas would be clean.
Clean your manuscript – Once you’ve removed the clutter, look deeper. Look for mistakes in grammar, syntax and spelling. Eliminate misplaced modifiers.
Decorate the house - With the house clean, I could advance to decorating. I added table runners, candles, little porcelain trees, wreaths, other homey touches.
Decorate the manuscript – You’ve eliminated unnecessary items in your manuscript. It flows correctly. Grammar, spelling and syntax is correct. Now it’s time to decorate. Go through your manuscript. If you have lots of paragraphs with similar sentence structure near each other, provide variation. Then look for past tense and see if it will make sense in the present. Examine the verbs. Can they be changed to move effective ones?
Consider Your Guests’ Preferences and fill their needs. – My husband and I are meat-eaters, but my brothers are vegetarian. To make everyone happy, I prepared dishes for both.
Consider Publisher Preferences – Research will prevent wasted time, paper and postage. Check guidelines before submitting to a publisher. Don’t send a sweet romance to an erotica publisher, or vice versa. Don’t send a science fiction odyssey to a mystery publisher. You get the drift.
Accept Help – I gladly accepted my sister-in-law’s help when she offered to make the salad and later on helped me do the dishes.
Accept help with your manuscript – Seriously consider any changes your editor will pose to get your manuscript in shape. An editor deals with a variety of manuscripts and can spot problems or bad selling points. Don’t do this blindly. If there’s a good reason for not changing something, explain your reasoning to the editor.
Have a Good Time – I was busy the whole time on Christmas Day, yet I didn’t allow that to interfere with enjoying my guests. I had fun, though I admit when they’d left I was tired.
Enjoy Your Manuscript – Enjoy the ride. Take pleasure when you’ve finished a book. Be happy when your book is accepted by a publisher. Have fun at book signings. Have a great time promoting.
What are you waiting for? Get ready!