Question #1:
What is the market standard for signing a contract once an editor has given a verbal acceptance of a manuscript? Does it take months after the acceptance or should it occur immediately?

It varies. If you have an agent and the publisher and agent haggle, then it can take months. Unless I have a personal relationship with an author, I will not work on a manuscript while it’s in the process of being acquired. Once I’ve offered for it, I don’t look at the work again until I have a signed contract. Now, how long should it take for the author to receive the contract? It should occur quickly, especially if you do not have an existing relationship with the publishing house. You are doing to much work revising to hope the contract will be something you can live with.

Question #2:
In lots of the reading I’ve done on writing, the author says to avoid adjectives and adverbs like the plague. I understand much of this is from a show don’t tell perspective. Yet in much of the reading I do, I still see plenty of adjectives and adverbs. What are your thoughts on this and when is it OK for the author to use these? I guess what I’d like to see from you if possible are some examples when you feel it is OK to use adverbs.

It is completely impossible to write without using an adverb every now and then. (See? I did it right now.) On the whole though, I try to avoid adverbs (not so much adjectives) as much as possible. Adverbs are vague and most of the time are either unnecessary or a more specific description can be used. The exception to this would be dialogue. We use adverbs all the time when we speak, and to not use them in your dialogue could be awkward. I can’t give any specific examples because every adverb has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

My advice is to not worry about adverbs while writing your first draft. Fill that thing full of them if they come naturally to you. Then, when you go back to edit, look at all your adverbs carefully. Are they necessary? Is there another more specific way to say the same thing? If so, cut the adverbs. If not, leave them in. Adverbs alone will not sink a good story.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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