Lamar Giles
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Gremlins in the manuscript

Sorry to leave you for a few days, kiddies. Been hard at work on Agent-requested revisions to WHISPERTOWN. I’m nearly done on that front and wanted to take time to speak to the little (vicious) things.

Typos, missed words, and other general manuscript weirdness (AKA Gremlins).

If you’re familiar with the film, then you know the creatures I speak of. If you’re not familiar with the film, the picture to the left should let you know they aren’t chinchillas.

To clarify, I didn’t come home to find a green reptilian midget chowing down on my pages. In the film, Gremlins were mischievous, with antics ranging from messing up your appliances (especially microwaves) to murder. And they were damn hard to get rid of. The more you attacked, the more there were.

Thus is the nature of problems in manuscripts (for me, anyway…maybe for you, too).

You need to be perfect (REALLY perfect)

This is not true, nothing and no one is perfect. When dealing with Manuscript Gremlins, you gotta try for perfection, though. We’ve all read books where we noticed a misspelling, incorrect word usage, or just a missing word all together. It happens. It’s forgivable. But, have you ever read a book where something is wrong on every other page? Like the author didn’t check it at all?

Admittedly, the worst offenders I’ve run across were self-published books (NOTE: I’m not saying ALL self-published books are poorly edited, I’ve simply experienced SOME that were). That’s not to say I haven’t seen a novel come from major publishing houses with embarrassing mistakes, too. Bottom line: it’s your book, it represents your name, try to make sure it’s right. We’re all human, but don’t let the mistakes in your book label you a ‘lazy, illiterate, and possibly blind’ human.

“I don’t want to read the whole thing again…”

With each subsequent draft of your manuscript you’ll gain confidence that the material is getting better and better. You’re right. But along with the confidence comes a level of comfort, and you’ll be tempted to skip whole sections because you know they’re good to go.

Never, ever do this.

Changes in manuscripts cause a ripple effect. That change to a character’s motivation in Chapter 5 effects what they do in Chapter 27. You changed the paint color on page 40, you better make sure it matches on page 216.

Make your changes, then re-read your whole manuscript with a critical eye. It’s the only way to catch lurking Gremlins.

Your new draft is still a first draft

So, you’ve made sure that your shiny new word upgrades haven’t conjured new Gremlins in your manuscript. All the new stuff is compatible with the old stuff, and you haven’t heard a peep from the little monsters. Guess what?

They moved.

They’re in the new text that you added. How? Why? Because Gremlins love first draft writing most of all.

“Wait,” you say, “this isn’t my first draft, it’s like my fifth.”

Technically, yes. However, anything you’ve added hasn’t been critiqued or revised, so those portions are first draft writing. You’ll need to pay special attention.

Seems like a lot of work

It does. And it is. If you do all this, you’ll know your manuscript inside and out, will likely get sick of it. You wanna be a pro, though, and part of the job description is Gremlin Killer.

So, have at it. Just don’t take your manuscript to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…that’s not going to help anyone.

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