Neatness Counts!

I learned to type on a manual typewriter, and when I first saw an electric one, I was pretty impressed. However, it was immediately apparent that while the touch was lighter (I still pound the keys, though, which is a problem on those sleek aluminum Apple keyboards), the fundamentals were the same. Carbon paper, White-out, and the ability either to think ahead or write one’s way out of an unfortunate corner—to avoid retyping the page—were still high on the list of sine qua non.

Needless to say, many manuscripts looked pretty rough.

Fast forward to decades later. We have cut/copy and paste, one of technology’s major leaps forward (up there with the intermittent windshield wiper, Velcro™, and the iPod), to say nothing of AutoCorrect and spell check, and guess what! Too many manuscripts still look pretty rough.

Agents will not read crappy-looking work. They get far too much beautifully packaged writing to bother with stuff that the writer couldn’t be bothered with.

People! This is not okay! I’m not going to get all philosophical about the downfall of civilization as reflected in messy work, but it might not hurt to consider it. Why shoot yourself in the foot? Discuss! And then e-mail me, and I will make your work beautiful.

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