To better your manuscript:
- Develop a thick skin. Realize you will receive a lot of criticism over the span of your career. Know the truth that criticism is much more useful BEFORE you turn something in than when it sits on a bookshelf. Learn to welcome criticism like trials: as welcomed friends to hone your words.
- Read it out loud. You’ll catch a lot of mistakes.
- Join a critique group, one that meets regularly, chock full of serious, publication-pursuing writers who aren’t afraid to tell the truth.
- Lose the love affair you have with high-falutin’ language. Just tell the story, say the idea, explain the concept. Flowery words convolute good sentences. Love your reader enough to be willing to disappear. You’re not loving your reader if your prose stops them, if he stumbles over your verbiage. A reader should forget about the author and be absorbed instead into the book.
- Don’t settle. If you know your ms isn’t ready, don’t just throw it out to editors hoping something will stick. Tough it out. Wrangle with your paragraphs. Make that puppy sing.
- Lean toward telling stories rather than preaching.
- Write so much your fingers hurt. The more you write, the more polished you’ll become. The key to good writing is discipline.
- Experience life in the midst of it all. Engage. Love. Cry. Laugh. Be with people. The more you experience others, the more authentic your prose.