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?