If I see typos in your pitch or 250, it makes me wonder how many typos are going to be in your manuscript. After all, you know that you are being judged on your pitch and 250, therefore, presumably you have gone over it with a fine tooth comb. So if typos have escaped that fine toothed comb, that tells me that you didn't look closely enough, didn't care enough to self-edit, or aren't experienced enough to recognized the typos. Your writing is going to have to be pretty damn compelling to make me overlook the presence of typos.
I give you five of the most common typos I've seen:
- DISCREET vs DISCRETE: This is my biggest pet peeve. Ever. Discreet means to say or do something quietly, prudently. Discrete means separate, distinct. Here's how to tell them apart. Discrete is a mathematical term. Greece is the birthplace of mathematics. Crete is an island in Greece. So, disCRETE = math. If you want to refer to separate objects, like individual numbers (hence the math reference), use discrete. If you want to indicate someone did something on the down-low, use discreet.
- IT'S vs ITS: One is the contraction for 'it is,' the other means something belong to an intimate object. You can figure out which one to use by reading the sentence out loud, using 'it is.' For example, "The robot waved its arms," should be read as "The robot waved it is arms." Obviously, in this case, you want to use the possessive term, not the contraction. So, the thing to remember is 'no is, no apostrophe.' This also works for YOU'RE vs YOUR.
- PUNCTUATION IN QUOTES: Periods go inside the quotation marks. If you're quoting a quote, it's single quotes inside double quotation marks. If you're ending or beginning the sentence with a dialogue tag, the quote ends with a comma, i.e. "The road was red dirt," she said or She said, "The road was red dirt." However, if the quote is being followed by another sentence, the quote ends in a period or exclamation point, i.e. "The road was red dirt!" She stared at the truck's tires.
- ALOT vs A LOT: A lot is two separate words. Always. I refer you to Hyperbole and a Half if you want to know what an "alot" is.
- PLURAL POSSESSIVE: If something belongs to a group, the apostrophe goes on the outside of the 's.' For example, the house belonging to the Smith family would be the Smiths' house. An object belonging to John Angelos would be John Angelos's object, since there is only one John Angelos. For more apostrophe rules, this is an excellent site.
For more grammar tips, I recommend the Purdue OWL. It was used as part of my training in college and I still consult it when I need a refresher.
Submissions open on December 2nd, so you have fifty-seven days left to get your manuscript in tippy-top shape.