|Jean-Leon Gerome: Femme Nue (1889)|
I rarely post actual writing advice, because, like - what do I know? But here's my standard check-list for manuscript clean-up when I'm sending something in to editors.
NB: DOUBLE CHECK WHAT THE EDITOR ASKED FOR. Always follow instructions, even if they ask for everything in 8-point Comic Sans!
If no other guidance is available, this is what I do:
- Select the entire manuscript and choose a single font, size 12, double-spaced - I work across several laptops so my manuscripts end up a mess of Calibri and Ariel.
- Select entire manuscript and set the spellcheck language to US or UK English, depending on publisher.
- Single and double quote marks - to avoid a mix of curly quotes and straight quotes, for the same reason as above: [Find ' and Replace with ' then Find " and Replace with "]
- Tabs - Editors HATE tabs. You should have an automatic indent set instead. [Find ^t and Replace with nothing] Then check your manuscript to make sure you've not just got one HUGE paragraph now.
- Em dashes [Find - (space hyphen space), Replace with em dash: ctrl + alt + [minus on the number pad]. Do it again, searching for -- (two hyphens)]
- Ellipses [Find … (three periods) and Replace with ellipsis (ctrl + alt + period)]
- Double spaces (between sentences or words) [Find (space)(space) and Replace with (space) Important! Repeat this until 0 instances are found!]
- Trailing spaces at end of paragraph: [Find (space)^p and Replace with ^p]. Repeat until you get 0 results
- Extra spaces at start of paragraph text: [Find ^p(space) and Replace with ^p] Repeat until you get 0 results.
This doesn't take long at all, once you get used to it.
Now you're ready to spell-check.