Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Did Your Manuscript Pass with Flying Colors?

A lot of you are getting ready for National Novel Writing Month better known as nanowrimo. Some of you continue to work on your manuscript. What important factors do you keep present when writing your MS?
I think everyone can agree that editing is vital no matter what part of your MS you’re writing.
Here are some of the things I keep in mind:
1)      Don’t be too obvious by explaining too much.
2)      Make sure your diction and dialogue are believable.
3)      Be sure you have a plot and an emotional arc.
4)      Arouse curiosity by keeping your reader wondering, yet engaged in the story and/or characters.
5)      Choose your verbs and adjectives wisely. They have to help the story move along. 
I know there are more elements that we can include in this list. Is there anything else you can add? 
Just pretend your MS is a student that needs to pass a test before sending it off to a publisher. 


  1. A few years ago I read an interview to author Don DeLillo. He explained that when revising one of his books, after the first draft has been written, he isolates each paragraph into a single page. A page per paragraph, his books turns into a 6/7,000 page tome! Then he works on each paragraph until he can consider it perfect.

    Thanks for the insight, Claudia.
    Very interesting as usual.

  2. Have lots of conflict! :-) I think!

    I like the ms comparison to a student in need of passing a test!! It gives a fresh view on nurturing one's ms. Yay! Thank you! Take care

  3. Does it have sufficient tension? Or does any part of it bore me? Are two questions I ask myself :)

  4. Hi Jacopo,
    OMG! I could never do what Don DeLillo does in order to improve his draft. I call that commitment.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Conflict is good ;) A story without conflict is flat. Glad you liked my analogy ;)

    Hi Mike,
    Oh, tension is essential in a story. Thanks for adding this one to the list. :-)

  5. I definitely have to work on the explaining too much aspect! Great tips!

    I wanted to let you know that I will be spotlighting you on my blog tomorrow for the Pay It Forward Blogfest :)

  6. From a technical standpoint, watch those dialogue tags. Too many undermines the conversations ... Great advice here today!

  7. Hi there WritingNut!
    Thanks for the shout out! Very kind of you :)
    I'll drop by your blog to check out this blogfest.

    Hi Joanne,
    thank you for dropping by and adding your tip to my list. Yes, dialogue tags could be dangerous. Too many can spoil a good story.

  8. Great list! And I found you at WritingNut.

    And I'm with Joanne . . . that's actually my downfall.

  9. Hi! Count me in as a new "Pay it Forward" follower! :-)

  10. Dialogue tags were my nemesis for a while, but I'm much better at them now! Same with redundant phrases :)

  11. Hi Janet, Shannon, and Jemi:
    Welcome to my blog! thank you for stopping by, joining my blog and sharing your comments.
    I'm on my way to each of your blogs :)
    Happy blogfest!

  12. Great tips! And more in the comments.
    Happy Weekend.

  13. Hi Claudia. I'm here as the co-host from the Pay It Forward blogfest. Thanks so much for signing up.

  14. Hi Matthew,
    Thank you for dropping by and for hosting the Pay it Forward blogfest. It was fun!

  15. In this business, your manuscript can pass the test, but it's nearly impossible to get an

  16. This is all excellent advice! In my own writing, I like to make sure that the characters are believable and original. What sets your brave or compassionate or determined MC apart from any other protagonist?

  17. Hi Theresa,
    Thank you for joining my blog. This industry has changed a lot. Nowadays you can make it without an agent. We writers have to do the legwork but some publishers are willing to lend you a hand, too. ;)

    Hi Shelley,
    To answer your question, I think you have to let your key characters say and do odd things, things that you do not understand. You have to let them out of your control. Remember, don’t rely too heavily on more general stereotypes or archetypes. The most compelling characters are those who appear internally consistent and yet are capable of surprise.
    Hope I've answered your question ;)

  18. missed the pay it forward blog, so stopping by fashionably late! nice to meet you :)

    and good tips for ms's.

  19. Great list, Claudia! I actually keep the character in mind when I'm writing. I'm not usually concerned with the plot. What I have found is that when I concentrate on my character and his/her issues the plot sort of happens in it's own.

  20. Hi Jeremy,
    Nice to meet you, too! I dropped by your blog as well and I am now following you ;)
    I signed up for your Halloween Hop, it should be fun ;)

    Hi Racquel,
    Yes, some writers do that. They let the characters guide them, hence the plot takes its course. Glad you liked the list :-)

  21. I think it's important to know your flaws...that way you can keep track of them in your writing. I also think it's important to make sure you are hitting all of the senses when possible.

  22. Hi Sharon,
    Wise words! Yes, knowing our flaws help a lot. One of my mentors told me to use the senses when describing things around the characters (e.g. what they see, hear, smell). Thanks for sharing these tips!

  23. I suppose if you could break down a manuscript by paragraph, I feel that so long as each paragraph, as a stand alone aspect, still engages and has a feeling of 'energy', then you're on the right path.

    Less, really is more. Something I'm striving to do - but not always succeeding with - is the avoidance of repetition, which can, at times catch you out, especially if the work you are producing sneakily pulls you in.

    Unfortunately (or not, as some might think), I can get caught up in the writing, especially if it's (to my mind) a rather emotionally charged scene, event, interaction. As an example, during one scene I had recently finished I couldn't see either screen or keyboard for blubbing like a baby... how I hate that when it happens!