Monday, February 13, 2012

Pre-Flight Safety Checklist

My Dad's a pilot. He knows there are a few things you can't afford to go wrong at 10,000 feet, so he has a pre-flight safety checklist. Doesn't matter how many times you've checked before, you gotta do it again before you take off. Same thing with my manuscript. It doesn't seem to matter how many drafts I've done, there are a few things I have to check before I submit.

1. Chapter Breaks
Are the chapters numbered consistently? When I begin each chapter, do I have the same amount of space at the top of the page? And most importantly, did I end each chapter with a good hook?

2. Punctuation Dialog 
Yes, I know the rules. Tags get commas. Beats get periods. No good telling that to my wild horses of creativity as they gallop through a first draft. Instead, I check every line of dialog just before I submit. This is a good thing. It gives me a chance to make sure all the dialog snaps and sparkles.

3. Word Abuse
I've got some words I like to use too much, so I have to go back through my manuscript and look around for them. Like, back, look, and around... about half the time these are filler words that don't mean anything. They bog down the prose. Out they go.

4. Grammatical Tics
It's/its, try and/try to, there's/there are, and putting an s on the end of words like toward and anyway. I'm blind to these things when I read through, so I have to use the "search and destroy" feature on my word processor. I love that thing!

5. Final Read
I have to read the whole manuscript one last time. Just so I know exactly what I'm sending out.

Safety check complete! Time to taxi down the runway.

What's the last thing you do before you submit?

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