Before You Submit
by James Scott Bell
The May/June issue of Writer's Digest has a sidebar from YA editor Anica Morse Rissi, wherein she gives nine things you can do to elevate your manuscript before submission.
The list is right on, not only for getting a manuscript ready to submit to agents or editors, but also if you're considering self-publishing. So I'm going to give you the tips with my own commentary on them.
1. Revise, revise, revise.
As the author of a whole book on the revision process, I'm not going to quibble with this one. You can, however, become "revision obsessed" and spend way too long on a project. In my book I give a process for getting over that, but you can just as well come up with one of your own, so long as you eventually send your work out. Not too soon, but not too late, either.
2. Start with conflict and tension.
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Some of our highest traffic here at TKZ has come from posts on what to do -- and what not to do -- on first pages, as well as the numerous first page critiques we've done. Search those out in the archives. Now, conflict or tension does not have to be "big." It can really be any sort of disturbance to the Lead's ordinary world.
3. Don't start with backstory.
An obvious corollary to #2. Backstory is best when it is delayed, although little sprinkles can be added to the first pages for depth. Just make the action primary up front.
4. Give the readers something to wonder about.
For the rest of these great tips, with Bell's commentary, click HERE.
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