The fast answer is: “It’s not just you. Virtually all aspiring authors make lots of mistakes in their manuscripts.”
Last week, an author who used WritAnon’s editing service sent me this (paraphrased) question: Do all aspiring authors see this much red on their edited manuscripts?
This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this question. However, this is the first time I’m writing a public message about it.
The short answer is yes. And it’s not limited to aspiring authors. First drafts from established authors will often have the same amount of “red” markups–changes, suggestions, or problems within the manuscript.
Theoretically, there could be someone who wrote a manuscript that was perfect in every way before they send it off to a publisher.
I’ve never seen one. If I did happen to come across a perfect submission, I’d happily tell the author that there was nothing I could do to help improve it. I’d then wish them the best of luck as they either seek another editor or choose to start querying agents or publishers.
For most writers, though, getting an experienced set of eyes is a must. Some people can get this from a talented writing group, but there are many who don’t have access to the right level of feedback. For these writers, editing services like WritAnon’s can be a valuable tool to get the right feedback they need.
What mistakes do aspiring authors make? Here’s a short list in no particular order (I’ll expand on these in an upcoming post):
- Grammar, spelling, and sentence fragments
- Inconsistent characters
- Plot holes or inconsistencies
- Dialogue that doesn’t sound like something the characters would say
- Run-on sentences
- Overly complex sentences (using 10 words to say what could be done in 5).
- Overuse of adjectives and adverbs (not everything needs to be described in intense detail–you’ll fatigue the reader)
No manuscript of any significant length (more than a page or two) comes out of a writer’s mind perfect to unleash upon the world. Personally, I go through at least three drafts before I let anyone else read my stories. Even then, my critique group generally gets it first. Once it passes their approval, then I feel more comfortable with sharing it with the rest of the world.
Writers should not find this discouraging. The person who first said this has likely been lost to antiquity, but it still remains true: “The art of writing is rewriting.” Persevering through this challenge (and, when appropriate, seeking editing help) is what separates the aspiring author from the published author.
Take your time and work through any critiques you receive. You may not change everything that’s recommended, but you’ll often end up with a much stronger manuscript.
We’re all in this together. Keep writing!