So the question is, how do you get published? Here are some things to think about when drafting and revising your masterpiece. Or at least, this is what I think about when I evaluate manuscripts:
THE STARTING LINE
· The beginning is super duper important!!! Is the opening line memorable/make a splash? Think about it — even if you’ve never read Jane Austen, you’ve probably heard her famous opening line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
· Does the first chapter grab the reader?
· How much dialogue do you have? What percent of the text is dialogue? Too much? Too little? Try running your eye over a successfully published novel. How much of the text on that page is dialogue?
· Is the dialogue effective/does it further the plot, or is it just hanging limply there as filler?
· Is there some kind of shoptalk that the reader might not understand? For example, if your main character is involved in fast fashion, don’t assume that your reader knows exactly how the industry works and how clothing moves from factories to vendors.
· Does the tone seem snobby or is the setting obnoxiously unrelatable to a reader of a lower socioeconomic status? (No, seriously. This is a good way to think about what kind of audience your novel is written toward).
· Please don’t stereotype about certain subcultures/people/areas of the United States you (the author) have probably never even visited. Don’t attempt to use local dialects that just won’t ring true. For example, if I, who have only visited the Midwest a few times, can see that your description of a Midwestern town is completely built on stereotypes…yikes. This just got awkward.
· Is the setting interesting enough? Is it too interesting — is it more interesting than the plot? You can’t write a book that’s entirely setting.
· Do the characters seem authentic, or are they based off of offensive stereotypes? Are they 3D characters? Does the reader know more about them than whether they’re married and what their job title is? Instead of making her cranky and going on describing Grandma’s adorable crankiness just because you want to make her an endearing character, are you making Grandma cranky for a reason that will tie into the plot?
Enough for today, whew! Next time I’ll talk about narration, plot, and my awesome writing rule of thumb. Stay tuned!