“Self-editing is about understanding common mistakes and fixing them”
While complicated narrative, boring storylines and poor attention to detail are reason enough to earn a rejection letter and returned manuscript from a publisher or literary agent, it’s a basic lack of care towards grammar, punctuation and spelling that invariably lets a writer down.
For some unexplained reason, people just assume they can present anything and it will be accepted, no matter how fundamentally flawed it is. It won’t. Although having a unique idea is half the battle, there is a general rule of thumb which every writer must follow.
While it’s true that not all aspiring authors are blessed with an Eats, Shoots and Leaves capability towards the English language, nevertheless, it should not undermine the availability and ease of using a Thesaurus for words of similar meanings and an Oxford dictionary for defining words, phrases and spelling.
These basic reference writing aids are there for a reason. They’re even on the computer for anyone too lethargic to use a reference book. However – and this is important – although this won’t necessarily make for a more interesting and creative writer, it will certainly make for a better one.
Next time I’ll be looking at plot and structure.