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Article: Literature & Theater Manuscript Tips

Choosing work to submit

  • How many pages? Guidelines for manuscripts usually have specific instructions for how many pages you can submit. Work within those guidelines, manuscript guidelines are usually created to ensure that each applicant's manuscript will be given equal consideration and attention.
  • Consider your audience as you select work to submit; make sure the work clearly communicates your ideas and style.
  • If you submit different pieces of work, it is a good idea to make sure they complement each other and show your skill as a writer. If one piece is more developed or dramatically different in style than the other it may confuse the panelist. You can use your synopsis (aka Work Sample Description) to explain any differences between the pieces of work you submit.
  • Using a synopsis (aka Work Sample Description). If a synopsis is admissible, such as when applying for an Artist Trust grant, use it to explain your selections. The synopsis provides a writer with the opportunity to provide detailed information that the manuscript selection may not be able to explain. For example, if you submit chapter eight from your novel, use the synopsis to explain exactly where the chapter fits into the complete body of work. You can also write a few sentences about your ideas, how they developed, and where they came from.

  • Presenting your manuscript

    Look carefully in the grant application guidelines for any instructions on how your manuscript should or shouldn’t be presented. If there are no instructions:

  • Double space (or 1.5 space in Word, Artist Trust’s preference) all manuscripts and make sure your margins are not too small, this makes your work easy to read and allows space for the reader to make notes. Print only on one side of the page. Do not submit double-sided pages.
  • Use a 12-point font size, smaller type sizes make it difficult for reviewers to easily read your manuscript. Go for quality and do not worry about quantity.
  • If it is not a blind review process, write your name on the front page of each copy of your manuscript (and on the top of the synopsis if your submission includes one). If you do not properly identify your work, it can get lost!
  • Number your pages.