Besides being really freaking tiring, editing your manuscript alone isn’t always the best idea. When you read your own work, your brain is already aware of what you wrote, so it will make up for mistakes by fixing errors in your head. That’s why editors are important. But before you send your manuscript off to 10 poetry editors, you may want to scan for these common errors we see in poetry manuscripts.
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Check for lie vs. lay errors
This is probably the most common error we see in manuscripts. Why? Because it’s freaking confusing. Even we get confused sometimes. That’s why we have a handy cheatsheet printed out in front of us at all times. But we don’t expect you to do that, so here are some quick tips for getting lie and lay right the first time.
Lay means to put something down, and it always includes a direct object. Someone or something has to do the laying.
Lie means to rest or recline, and it does not need a direct object.
Lay can also be the past tense of lie.
Do not put a comma after a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) when it starts a sentence
A comma is not needed after a coordinating conjunction when it starts a sentence. You should only place a comma before a coordinating conjunction when it joins two independent clauses.
Remember to capitalize proper nouns
Remember to capitalize kinship names when they take the place of people’s names
Remember to follow consistent capitalization in poem titles
However you choose to capitalize your poem titles (ALL CAPS, Title Case, or Sentence case) is totally cool, but you want to be consistent throughout.
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* All editing suggestions are based on The Chicago Manual of Style style guide