“Don’ts” for Young Writers
Adapted from The Gospel Banner, February 1890
Don’t punctuate your manuscript with dashes in place of commas, semicolons, and periods. A manuscript which is not worth the trouble of punctuating properly is not worth sending. If you don’t know how to use commas, semicolons, and periods correctly, learn.
Don’t spin out an involved sentence over a whole page. Shorten or divide the sentences and see how much more direct and forcibly they will be. If an editor kindly straightens, polishes, or condenses your English for you, don’t fly at him wrathfully with a charge of “mutilating” your copy.
When your manuscript is bought and paid for, don’t importune the editor to mail gratuitous copies of the publication to this, that and the other address. The publisher has bought your goods. Buy his and send wherever you wish.
If an article is declined, don’t send long letters beseeching or demanding the reasons, and asking all manners of criticisms, comments and directions for future attempts. Save your time and stamps.
Don’t send directions that such and such words of your copy must be italicized. Every publication has its own standard of taste about such matters and will probably adhere to it. If an article offered in summer, but suited only to the depth of midwinter, is accepted, to be used “when seasonable,” don’t begin in September writing letters to know if it has been published, when it will be published, and why and wherefore it has been deferred so long.
In short, don’t make your correspondence so troublesome and exacting that your work won’t be wanted on any terms.