Writer's Checklist for After You Write
Susan Snowden prepared this checklist for short story writers:
After You Write
__ Walk away from your story for a few hours or a day.
__ Revisit your title. Will it grab the reader’s attention? Does the tone of your title match the tone of your story? (Make sure the title doesn't "give away" what happens in the end.)
__ Will your opening paragraph(s) intrigue the reader and make him/her want to read on?
__ Read your dialog out loud. Does it sound natural? Remember, when people speak they use a lot of contractions. For example, "I'm going home today." (Not "I am going home today.")
__ Next, fine-tune. Did you use strong verbs? Good descriptive adjectives? Did you use clichés? If so, replace them with fresh phrases. Did you use the same words over and over? For example, if you had dark night, dark sky, and dark clouds in the story, come up with some alternatives: "threatening," "charcoal," "ominous," "black."
__ Now look at the smaller picture (the "micro edit"). Run spell check first. Spell checks aren't always up to date, however, so consult a recent dictionary to check spellings of words you aren't sure about. Also look for typos, especially in punctuation. Two periods occur a lot. Forgetting to close quotes is a common mistake. Don't confuse "it's" the contraction of "it is" and "its" the pronoun. Check your apostrophes. (Sometimes single quotes get used instead.) Attending to these details will impress editors and show them you are a consummate professional.
__ Make sure your story is in standard manuscript format. You can find guidelines for preparing your manuscript on this Web site under Articles.
If you submit your story to a publication, first make sure they use the kind of material you are sending to them. If you aren't sure, review an issue or two. GOOD LUCK!