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Editor’s Choice – May 2020  

Is Your Story Editor-Ready?

Mary Charlesbois
Mary Charlesbois

Compare this checklist against a story you’re ready to submit, see if it’s 100% editor-ready.

Editor-Ready Story Checklist

□ Proofread, check spelling, punctuation, and grammar
– Microsoft Word or Grammarly can help with spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

-Confirm style with a style guide. Are boat names italicized? Is ‘prime minister’ in capitals? Do I use a colon or semicolon? The Associated Press Stylebook is the most frequently used for English-language publications. It is available in print or online.
-Proofread your article aloud, ask a friend to read it to you, or use the ‘Read Aloud’ feature in MS Word. Hearing your words out loud gives a better idea of flow and rhythm. Awkward structure and run-on sentences are easier to catch.
You’ll hear words that are spelled correctly but are still wrong. Words such as beer, instead of bear; reach, instead of peach; bold, instead of cold; or deer, instead of deep.

□ Fact check
-Verify people’s names, businesses, streets, cities, states, counties, and countries.
-Verify phone and street numbers.
-Verify all dates.
-Verify quotes, especially if you did not take them yourself. If you can’t verify it, leave it out.
-Verify things by going back to your source—double-check—make sure you haven’t transposed 1497 to 1947 or other typos.

□ Verify links and attachments
-Check links to the internet that you include in your story. Click on them, be sure they go where you intend.
-Is your story attached? It’s terribly embarrassing to get that email telling you there was no attachment.

□ Review writer’s guides
-Some publications request you submit your story in a particular style. They may ask you to use Times Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced, or leave out all styling such as bold and italic. Make sure your submission meets the style or no-style request.
-While you’re there, doublecheck the submissions email address. It may be different from the query address.

Editors want submissions that are ready to publish. A few changes might be made, but they shouldn’t be corrections to spelling, grammar, or facts. Submit your story editor-ready, you’ll make an editor happy. It’s an excellent way to ensure future assignments. ~TPM

About Mary Charlebois—Mary is the editor of TPM and a freelance writer/photographer. Covering off-the-beaten-path, not-well-known, and in-the-shadow-of locations are her passion. She delves into art, music, food, libations, architecture, museums, parks, well-curated tours, history, agriculture, and the unexpected in micro-towns and big cities, domestically and internationally.