Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Which is worse: a stick in the eye or a grain of sand?

We're all on the lookout for sharps sticks in any agents' eyes:  typos/grammos/spellos...gross formatting errors...etc.  But when we're proofing one last time, we need to watch intently for those little grains of sand that may kill our chances as surely.  Just a few examples:

--Double periods after sentences, usually resulting after a quick edit.
--Runs of rambling paragraphs that look like seas of ink--and smack of too much work.
--Machine gun bursts of one and two-line paragraphs that look like a James Patterson novel on speed.
--Over-punctuation, especially with commas.  Noah Lukeman states in The First Five Pages that a single page bursting with commas tells an agent at a glance:  way too many adjectives.
--Comas vs. commas.  A single typo may not undo a decent manuscript.  But when an error's repeated it becomes more than a typo.  And alarms may start to sound:  the writer's a slob or a rube.

I need to keep all this in mind as I hit the final stretch.  Where, where, where, where have I missed a grain of sand?

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