The company I'm third-part owner of, Per Bastet Publications
, received a submission we were eager to see. When I looked it over, I sent it back. We're still eager for it, and the author is willing to do what I asked before we accept the submission for realz, but the contract would already be signed if the excellent author had done one thing before submitting the manuscript.
Peeps, read your work aloud.
If you don't have a critique group or a critique buddy, read to the dog or the cat or to yourself, but read it aloud.
Dialog should sound like people talking. Ideally, dialog should sound like different
people talking. It's all too easy to write formally instead of conversationally. Hearing it aloud will make you go, "Whoa, I never actually heard
anybody talk like that." And, yes, some people do or could speak formally, using no contractions, but not everybody all the time.
As I say, it's easy--so, so easy--to perfect-English your dialog to death. Reading aloud will go a long way toward teaching yourself to avoid that, if you read what you've written and not what you think
To my mind, the best way to edit a story is to have at least one run-through where you read aloud and somebody else reads along silently from a copy of the manuscript. If you left a word out of the manuscript but say it when you read aloud because your brain fills it in, your co-reader will catch that. If you meant "read" but typed "red", spell-checker won't catch that, but your co-reader probably will. If you say and meant "less" but you typed "more", your co-reader will fix that for you.
That's my two-cents'-worth on the subject. What do you think?
Marian Allen, Author Lady
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