What Not to Do Wednesday Looks at Guidelines

So my online group has been having a lively chat these past few days about grammar and rules and dashes (oh my!). Sometimes, I suppose we can get so anxious about making mistakes that we barely start writing something, let alone finish writing it.

Of course, grammar’s important if you want to be successful. So thank goodness, there’s no shortage of grammar reference books out there to help any wannabe writer with comma-apostrophe-dash phobias. It’s just a matter of polishing up those sentences till they shine like sparkley little thought jewels. But one of our members mentioned something along the way that caught my attention: following submission guidelines, grammatically speaking.

Here’s the thing, little grasshopper. Your work may be brilliant in every way possible, but maybe you did not follow the very specific market guidelines. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you left two spaces after your sentences rather than the one space the guidelines called for (which, because of computers, is pretty standard manuscript formatting). Will your brilliant piece be accepted anyway (and thus causing the editor to go through every line, taking out that space)? Or will the editor pass over it in favor of someone who has followed the guidelines to a T (and thus saving your over-worked editor’s time and trouble)? It’s hard to say, but why take the chance?

Would you believe that Cathy C. Hall may have made that very same mistake? Also hard to say. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised (seeing as how it’s What Not To Do Wednesday).

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