Recipe for a Golden Manuscript

(Give the Lady a Ride is now on Kindle and Nook!)

Let’s say you’re having one of those hazy moments between awake and asleep, and your brain toys with a chicken casserole idea. You don’t want to use canned soup or pre-mixed spices. You want your recipe to be original. As your mind slowly emerges from the web of dreams, ingredients align themselves in your thoughts. Celery, carrots, fennel, onions. Different taste delights float into your mind’s eye and tickle your imagination’s tongue.

Next thing you know, you’re excited because you’ve created one amazing recipe. Toss back your covers, fly from the bed, and hone your idea as you brush your teeth and cleanse your face. Sharpen it in your mind over morning coffee. Toy with it periodically during the day. By the time you’re home again, you’re convinced you have an original, incredible casserole recipe for chicken.

You whip out a cute three-by-five inch index card and a black-ink pen and record your vision. You make several copies, one for each of the major food magazines. Taste of Home, Southern Cooking, Everyday Cuisine. Then make a special trip to town to drop them off at the Post Office, with visions of a photo-feature in Food and Wine Magazine dancing through your mind.

Uh, did you taste it? Did you try it out on friends and family? Did you tweak this, cut that, include another ingredient before sending your masterpiece off for publication?

Of course you did. No one in their right mind would send off an untested recipe!

Yet writers do so every day, and amazingly expect to hit the New York Times Best Seller List. They’ve already skipped past the “will my manuscript be accepted?” part. Of course it will be accepted! . . . right?

Just as you would test a recipe before mailing it, you should test your manuscript. Not with family and friends, unless they’re all seasoned editors, but with other writers more experienced than yourself.

Critique partners and groups are vital for creating a golden manuscript. Writer’s organizations that provide a mentor program are as precious as saffron. And if you really want to dazzle those dinner guests at the publication table, spring for a professional edit.

A recipe must be taste-tested by someone with an experienced palate before it’s presented to a food magazine. A manuscript needs to be reviewed by a knowledgeable critique partner, mentor, or freelance editor before it’s presented to an agent or publisher. Don’t forget that crucial ingredient.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Recipe for a Golden Manuscript

  1. Very good advice. So many beginning writers make that fatal mistake. I sure did. Without the resources I have now to read and learn from more experienced writers, I made tons of mistakes. At least they were only fatal for the manuscript. I survived to be a little wiser. Thanks for all of your advice, Linda. I eagerly devour every morsel.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      “At least they were only fatal for the manuscript. I survived to be a little wiser.” — That’s the best lesson from any mistake in this business, like the old song says: “Pick yourself up / Dust yourself off / And start all over again!


  2. Lynn Mosher says:

    Excellent analogy and advice, Linda!


  3. Lynne Wells Walding says:

    Great simile, Linda!



  4. If my recipe book looked as amazing as the one in your pic, I might actually be tempted to cook more often! Totally agree with your point though. Beta readers are gold – and you’re the goldest of all!


  5. Linda Yezak says:

    Aw, thanks, Katie!


  6. Nikole Hahn says:

    I started out in the writing business that way. Now I laugh at me back then and am glad that God held back to let me grow up and my writing mature.


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