Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Sunday, 5 June 2011

E is for eagle eye

You know how it is - you 've checked, re-checked, double re-checked, treble re-checked your manuscript to within an inch of its life. You print it out and decide to read it one more time for luck. Agghhhhh! you gasp. There it is. A misspelling, a glaring grammatical error, a missing speech mark, a repeated word. How in the name of custard did I miss that? You wail and gnash your teeth. But find it you did. At least you did find it. There's nothing worse than finding the error after you've sent the manuscript out!

Errors are so easy to miss, particularly when you are stressed or tired. I've done it many times and cringed when I look back over the manuscript that was returned, rejected, to find mistakes. To err is to be human after all. It's unprofessional but it happens. If you take a look through any magazine you like you'll find errors in the finished product - so it's not just you, the hopeful amateur, who gets it wrong - we all do. It doesn't matter how long you've been writing, or how much you've had published, it can and will happen to you.

So how do you lessen the odds? I'm a great advocate for breathing space. When you think you've dotted the last 'i' and crossed the last 't' it is tempting to send your gleaming manuscript out. DON'T! Resist the urge at all costs. Put it away somewhere for a couple of days - a week if time allows and then get it out and go through it again with fresh eyes. You might be surprised by what you find.

If possible, I always get someone else to read the manuscript through before I send it out. This person doesn't need to be another writer but they do need to have a sharp eye and a passion for  and a knowledge of spelling and grammar. You've heard the phrase 'two heads are better than one,' well in this case four eyes are better than two.

This works because you, as the writer, are too close, too emotionally involved in your own work. You've read it many times and your brain reacts to this by skimming, so you no longer really see what's written on the page as you begin to learn it and read it in your head rather than with your eyes on the page. Gaining someone else's perspective on your manuscript can highlight issues you haven't picked up on: pace, spelling, grammar, flow, etc.

So back away from your manuscript and give it some breathing space! Work on something else while it's resting. You'll be so glad you did, as will any prospective editor/agent/publisher.

Keep 'em peeled!

Julie xx

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