Mandatory Manuscription

While I’ve been occupied with family matters lately I’ve come to realize that I  hold in my brain a wealth of writing knowledge collected over 18 years of misery and rejection.   And since my brain, like yours, is 60% fat I feel the need to burn some of that blubber and build up the muscle in my favorite organ.  Well, second favorite.

And while I’d love to wax philosophic about body parts, that will have to wait until another day.  In the meantime, here are some dos and don’ts as they apply to the manuscript for a single story or essay.

The dos and don’ts for novels and books are similar, and I’ll harangue you with those later (after we talk body parts).  However, since you probably don’t want your manuscript being used by a Madison Avenue literary agent as a cigarette lighter, I thought I’d pass along some tips that might keep your file from being 86ed.

The Dos

  • Underline words you want to be italicized in print
  • Use the Oxford comma if you need to
  • Use UPPER CASE for the title of a book and “Quotations” for a story or essay
  • Only use Times New Roman or Courier New font
  • Only use 12-point font
  • Double-space the entire manuscript
  • Put your your name (your real name, not some dumbass pseudonym like George Eliot or James T. Kirk), your street address, city, state/province, and postal code in the upper-left corner of the first page; also include your telephone number and email address
    • No need to worry about privacy here: No one ever called or emailed me, except for collection agencies
  • Only put your last name, story title, and page number in the upper-right corner of each subsequent page
  • Place an approximation of the number of words in the upper right corner of the first page
  • Use one-inch margins all the way around on every page
  • Please learn the difference between i.e. and e.g., for example
  • Please learn the difference among there, they’re, and their
  • Please learn the difference between affect and effect
  • Please learn the difference between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The Don’ts

  • Do not use adverbs unless absolutely necessary (ba ha)
  • Do not use FLAMBOYANT or Gööƒ¥ fonts
  • Do not use both sides of the page
  • Do not illustrate your own story
  • Do not use the “fast draft” printing option
  • Do not use exclamation points
  • Do not use authorial intrusion.  There is a reason for point-of-view.
  • Do not use second-person unless you have a lot of experience
  • Do not place the copyright © symbol on your manuscript; it makes you look paranoid
    • Note: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody’s not after you
  • Do not confuse the word “like” with “as”
    • “Winston tastes good …”
  • Do not use “I” as the object of a prepositional phrase
  • Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural
  • Do not expect agents and editors to reply
  • Do not misspell words, even the word misspell
  • Do not use the word “irregardless”
  • Do not tell the editor or agent your hard luck story.  This is a good rule of life, in fact.  Never tell people your troubles.  Ninety percent of them don’t care and the other 10% are glad you have them.
  • Do not use dangling participles.  See above.  And we’ll talk about that again in the blog on body parts, too.

Now this small selection was chosen from the fatty acid deposits somewhere near my amygdala.  And yet there are many other nuggets of wisdom stored in various cortexes or floating around in that great neuron soup that makes me, me, and you, not me.

Until next time,
Peace, from Keith

This blog and its text are copyrighted in a most paranoid way by Alan Keith Parker © 2012.  Any use of my work in your own makes you look like the lazy damn fool that you are.

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6 thoughts on “Mandatory Manuscription

  1. Jeff

    Hey there… a lot of good pointers on this post… the human race forgets all the rules and regulations of good writing… this whole Net 2.0 Mobile App Twitter 140 Character limit thing has RUINED us as writers. Stick with the Old School Rules ! Yes sir.

    1. You’re right, and you’ve got to stick to fundamental grammar if you’re going to get a book or story published and sold in brick-and-mortar stores.

      I’m a gadget geek, and I love Kindles and Nooks and iPads, but we’ve got to strike a balance.

      Nothing replaces real books.

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