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Okay. So you've written something. Part of a story perhaps, or a description. A prologue or a novel chapter. You want to post it as a deviation on dA.

Fair enough.

You want comments? You want people to take your writing seriously?

Show us you take your writing seriously then.

1. Proofing and Polishing.

If you apply for a job and your CV is full of typos, spelling mistakes and poorly worded sentences, you won't get the job. Your application will go in the bin.

Most people on dA don't know you. If they randomly find your work and it looks like you dashed it off, wrote it between lessons, and submitted it just as it is, most people won't bother to read much beyond their discovery of the first typo.

And why should they? You obviously don't care enough to spend a bit of time polishing your work, so why should anyone waste their time reading it? Really?

No one cares about how on-the-spur-of-the-moment your writing was done. Saying "I wrote this at 3am" or "I was high" doesn't excuse you at all. It takes very little time to use a spell-checker, and there are grammar-checkers for those who need them.

If you have a valid reason for uploading shoddy work, tell us (see point 2). Bottom line: if you're lazy and can't be bothered, don't expect anyone to take you seriously, or spend time giving you a well-thought-out critique.

2. Artist's comments.

When you submit a deviation, you get a nifty little box where you can tell us about your creation before we read it.

Use it.

If you struggle with grammar and sentence structure and want some pointers then say so. That helps, and you're less ikely to be ignored. If you're trying to make a point by using l33t, typos and other errors and so on, it helps to let people know (unless you're sure they'll pick it up from the context).

If your work is a first draft and you only want opinions on content, not grammar, tell us! (although even a first draft should be edited if it's not going in your scraps – it shows commitment, and how much you value your work)

If you want specific feedback on certain elements – style, narrative, dialogue, emotional content, reader reaction… it helps if you request such things directly.

3. Editing

Editing seems to be the bane of most people's writing life. That's understandable. Everyone has their own writing process, and just getting words on paper can often be a big enough task. Having to then edit your work can be a daunting additional necessity.

But it is a necessity.

I'm going to be brief here, because even a quick, general edit is better than none. Basically, before you submit a deviation, read it at least once as if you were going to critique it. After all, if you're thinking of asking someone else to do it, you, as the author, should have a go first.

Check for obvious mistakes like typos and spelling errors. Concentrate on little things, like making sure when you say "your" you don't mean "you are" (you're), and so on.

Look at the words you've used. Have you used any clichés? They're fine in dialogue, but generally not in narration. Have you said what you meant to say? Are there long sentences or paragraphs that you can shorten – perhaps by using more appropriate words? Have you said the same thing twice? Do you need to?

There are many other things to consider – point of view, characterisation, plot, tone, tense, dialogue, narrative voice, description and so on. Some of these are decisions you should make within the writing process, rather than when editing, and I don't mean to get complex here. All I'm trying to do is to convince you to take pride in your written work.

4. Submit Art

The point is a simple one, but I'll make it again. When people who don't know you look at your writing they judge your writing on what they see. They don't judge you because they don't know you, which is why making excuses for a piece of bad writing never works.

Writing is as much an art form as painting or photography. Anyone with a camera can take a picture and submit it, but there is a world of difference between a snapshot of your cat and an artistic photograph of a cat. In the same way, anyone who has a computer can type anything they like and submit it. But there is a world of difference between writing about your feelings because you're sad, for example, and creating a well-crafted piece of sad poetry or prose.
By all means grab a paintbrush and paint. But if you want to be an artist, learn about painting: different media, paper, tools, colours, styles. The more you know, the more you can create your own style and technique.

It's exactly the same with writing.

Happy editing!

On submitting prose to DA

Or, do you care about your prose?
Because if you don't, why should anyone else?

by *MinorKey

I browse a lot of prose. I rarely comment. Why? Because it's obvious from the moment I lay eyes on the writing that the deviant doesn't appear to care about their work – so why should I? Before you think about asking for a critique, read the following...

(the grammar nazi, by *Windy999 [link] used by permission.)
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lululolo Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013   General Artist
Thank you, thank you.
hpfan-atic Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
IlluminatusDarksoul Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2010   Writer
Hi there, I was wondering in an effort to make my work more presentable how you get a picture at the top of the page?
RatTerrierLuv Featured By Owner May 28, 2009
That is so true! I like to read the literature here on DA also, and I rarely find a well edited one. I think that my two literatures here on DA are "polished" peices.



Would you mind reading them? Hope you like it!!!
Colin-B Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2009
Probably, my worst mistakes are too many commas, and mixing up words. For example, I might write 'did she', instead of 'she did'. A bad mistake, and the reason I re-read my work two or three times, then have a friend read it, before posting it. All out loud.
FaithlessRurouni Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Hm...I'm glad I stumbled on this. I think I'll take this little tidbit of info to heart and crack down on my own writing.

I do value my work a lot, I just never give it the time it deserves.
AtomicAlyssa Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2008
haha, wonderfully said.
but i don't see why people don't edit. when i edit my prose, it just turns into something 209348230948203948209384203948 times better! lol, still isn't much, but we're working on it. (me and my creative side). (:
kingtut98 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Well said, and well written. :-)

I can be a bit of a grammar nazi, though. ^^; But mostly only if the something is unreadable due to spooling and gramer errers.
claytonwoolery Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2008  Student General Artist
There is a typo in point two, so i didn't read any further.
Wiseoldhobbit Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2007
:sniff: This advice you gave me was really helpful, but the sad part is it makes my writing fell like complete crap! :cry: I’ve been writing since I was seven and I love doing it, but my largest problem is I tend to get words mixed up. Mainly it happens when I trying to write a word that I don’t know how to spell. I think this happens to everyone, or at lest I hope it does. :sniff:

(I’m sorry about any spell and grammar mistakes in the comment!)
Princess-Camille Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2007
I totally agree with the proofing and polishing part. I hate it when people don't take their own writing seriously! It annoys the heck out of me!!
Kikimari Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2007
Haha... finally someone gets it. My cousin and I both love to write, and we usually edit each other's writing. I don't really like to post my writing on DeviantART, though.
But seriously, how can people post their poetry and prose without editing first? I don't usually have to edit, because I don't have issues with spelling or grammar, unless I'm completely sleep deprived. But when you post something that has 20, 000 spelling and grammar errors in it, it's painful to me and probably to other readers. Come on, when people put that stuff on a website, it shows that they don't care. It hurts for me to read that crap!
Maybe this is just my OCD acting up...
But this is great... THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!!!
Kikyounokanashii Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
I'm going to need this around to encourage me to edit my work more thoroughly. I'm one of those who has little to no problems with spelling and grammar, but there are habits I have that make it difficult for people to read my prose on occasion (bunched up dialogue being one of them >>; but I AM changing that) This will help me, I think and it is very well done ^^
Spiritsong911 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2006   Traditional Artist
Well said. This cleared up what /I/ thought a prose was, and now I know I can submit chapters of stories and such, I think I'll do that. Thanks for the clearification and pointers.

Even though I probaly spelt somethings wrong in this comment. heh heh.
Busted1 Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2006   Digital Artist
Ah 3m t3h l337 gr4mma na211. (\/)\/\/41-141-14...
myloveliestsequence Featured By Owner May 24, 2006
1. i don't write prose

2. but somehow i came across this deviation

3. with its hilarious hilarious hilarious preview image

4. so i just thought i'd drop by and

5. say i love the preview image

6. and, of course, its text.

7. or mainly the text.

8. makes me think of some deviant or other.

9. anyways, :-).
sssaml3 Featured By Owner May 3, 2006  Hobbyist Writer
I'm very thorough when it comes to editing my work, and I mean very thorough. I border on obsessive-compulsiveness, but I feel weird if I don't at least do a quick check to see where I went wrong. I don't think I'm a very good writer, and that may be due to my need to change certain things compulsively when in fact things were fine as they were. I make things worse by changing alot of what I write. I think I've learned to look at each piece objectively and change a phrase or a paragraph only if the story requires me to. As with everything, art is a process.

I care deeply about my work because I view a piece of writing as an extension of myself; my writing projects who I am to the World. So when I finally do submit something to deviantART, it's a sign that I'm happy with it and what it says about me.
I love writing. It's my passion. It's also very cathartic and a crutch. I get a sense of satisfaction from putting pen to paper and creating characters and events that I can manipulate however I see fit. The feeling of it all is sort of my natural high.

Well, that's my two cents.
daeira Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2006
Lovely little guideline, and useful I'm sure. I'm one of those that loves editing though. Writing long pieces of prose is really tiring (or, can be), but when I'm done I'm so happy and pleased that I read it and fiddle with it again and again. Editing is fun! :D
bladerain Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2006  Hobbyist Writer
I stumbled here and I must say it was actually good for me to read these guidelines - they brought to my conscious mind some things I really didn't think about and got me thinking on how to submit my next pieces!
zuzynka Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2006
You wrote that it is no defense for the writer when his mother tongue is not English. That made me feel really sad because my mother tongue is Czech, which is obviously far from English and which (as you can guess for yourself) is not to be put here. I try use any correctors I can but still I misuse words especially prepositions and collocations. I hope I’ll get better but there is no other way than practicing and being corrected by native speakers. One can ask why then I submit my things here (and don’t give it to my teachers of English). The answer is simple - not only do I get corrected here but also the feedback of the content is better than anywhere else. I understand what you mean - I myself also browse a lot through prose and I am not able to comment or at least read entire deviations, because they are about nothing (or they just seem to me like that). I must say that sometimes I tried hard to give a feedback and then the person told me that, for example, it was only the first part or it was only "something I submitted because I was bored I’ll delete it or move it to scraps". Then I feel little bit angry and embarrassed, when an artist’s comment in the beginning would be enough. I just think it’s wrong to judge all the non-native speakers the same way - not by number of their mistakes but by their effort.

Btw. thanks for some interesting points
WeCritique Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2006
Sorry that this insulted you on a personal level, really I am.

What you have pointed out to me gives me an idea, and I hope you check back in the future to see what becomes of it.
zuzynka Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2006
I’m not insulted! I just tried to be understood. Be sure I come through everything that happens on your site regularly. I like it.
many new ideas!
one-duck Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2006
hahahah! read my siggie! XD no, i agree...for poetry & prose, the writer shuld take cart to make sure the work is typo free & the grammer is right. I mean it's underlined with possible right awnsers! how can you go wrong?
ellierany Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
I use a spell checker, read it through millions of times, and still people find typos I missed. Bleh.

But you're right. One day my eyes will notice when words are wrong. I'll stick pins in them until they do. Blunt pins.
tonyspencer Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2006
Actually, it's unlikely you will get much better at noticing!

You need another pair of eyes (ie another person) to properly check it. Even then that may not be enough!

I worked for 16 years as a production editor, and typos still occasionally got through the writer, two editors, two sub-editors and two layout artists and in to the magazine! Of course, as soon as it came back from the printer, you'd flip through it, and it would rest at a random page and bang! The typo leapt out from the page and smacked you in the eye...

The biggest problem is when the brain knows what's supposed to be there, it compensates if the eyes don't see it properly (ie the eyes see the mistake, but the brain "fixes" it). That's why it's almost impossible to properly proof read your own work.
Boxymoron Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2006
I agree competely. It is even harder to correct your own mistakes, grammar or otherwise, because you KNOW what you meant.

I've taken my works (whether it be my latest submission or my regular Composition class papers) to either: 1) the writing lab, or 2) My composition instructor (Just think, by getting your paper looked over by your instructor, not only are you getting great feedback, but every mistake he catches and points out is another point saved on your paper, not to mention you adjust your paper to what he is looking for in it). I am admittingly too novice to catch everything myself, if anything at all, and asking another person for ideas on how to do things or how to 'voice' a certain section is crucial
ellierany Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I see you have laser goggles to help you.
reality-pfft Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2006
Maybe, just maybe, you should go back and take away the link to your name, because it won't work. ;)

Perhaps just leave it as MinorKey instead of :dev minorkey: ?
WeCritique Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2006
It worked once upon a time but no longer does now as DevArt has changed that feature.
robearz Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2006
Thank you so much.
love-dream-draw Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2005
I do edit before I submit, but I don't use spell checkers or grammer checkers because they usually just screw up my work. I am however dyslexic so I may miss something but I do try to edit to the best of my ability. On my honor
JessamynVampyreDream Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2005
"The word is coloUr!"
Oh, gosh.... take this from the American girl who read basically nothing but english books all through her childhood, and is considered a weirdo for *never* having spelled 'grey' with an 'a' IN HER LIFE.
heir-apparent Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2005   Writer
kuschelirmel Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:clap: well said!

just a little addition: I think if english isn't your native language but you choose to write in it nonetheless, it's not an excuse for typos etc. either, cos as you point out: there are spell-checkers available. Clearly these never correct all your mistakes, but it should at least leave your stuff "readable".

also i think it's no shame to be told that someone else would've written something differently: he/she might just be right and leave you with some valuable information for your next piece ;)
MadameRuby Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2005  Professional Writer
The entire reason I stopped submitting my written work on sites like and is because the lack of decent writers on those sites is appalling. To paraphrase what someone before me once said about those sites, I was just sick and tired of sifting through endless amounts of trash to find one piece of golden writing.

While it's a bit harder to find stories of a certain fanfiction fandom on DA (at least it is for me), I find that there's less 'trash' to wade through to find what I'm looking for. I think these guidelines should be at the top of the page when someone wants to submit prose, or even poetry. They are wonderfully truthful, and will get a deviant much further with their work than having it dissected when they didn't want it to be. Perhaps it might even make them turn around and touch it up before submitting (which I would hope is the ideal situation).

A definite favorite, and a wonderful guide for any kind of writer, prose or poetry.
nikofoxfire Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2005   Writer
Now, I really suck at grammar. I know it. I hold no shame in the fact.

That said, isn't one of the critiquer's jobs to act a bit like the 5th grade english teacher, catching little things like your and you're? As an editor for a literary magazine (And by editor, I don't mean executive, I just mean the guy who hits *F7* when the writer is too dumb to.), I can tell that teenage poets abound have the same problems I have. I doubt it is any more carelessness and disregard for quality than the typos in your post regarding the carelessness and disregard for quality are. For a while, my featured deviation had no indentations, and no linebreaks. Was it carelessness on my part? No! That piece means a lot to me, enough to me for me to send it off to various publishers and contests. What was it then, that makes a good writer present his work like it was scribbled on the back of a napkin? I strongly suspect it was, and still is the lack of ability to fix it. I didn't know HTML at the time. I looked at the piece and realized it looked like crap, but couldn't do anything about it. Maybe the younger writers out there are as incompetent at the little parts in presentation like apostrophes as I am with HTML? Just a thought- You can't give a tool to a child and say 'Fix that car!' any more than you can give a pen to a mechanic and say 'Fix that grammar!', and I don't think we should ignore writers for their inability to fix something that they haven't been taught the skills how to fix. Hmm; and with that, my rant is done :D.
Achaiah Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006
Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Eldabu Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2005
Witty, i may be falling in love with the litte cartoon man, and know after commenting i'm getting very paranoid about not using capital "i"s whilst i type ... I shall change that now *does so*. Favourite straight away x.xx
DeirdraChaeli Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2005   Writer
Hmm... a nice perspective. I don't post much prose (have I posted any yet?) but I think a good number of your points apply to poetry as well, such as asking for critique. I'm going to go edit all my artist comments now...
TheCuddlyDevil Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2005
Very nice article, MinorKey.

I haven't submitted any prose, but this will come handy when I do.
shroomish Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2005   Writer
I always personally hated l33t. Just couldn't adapt.

What a cute little Nazi.
ChocolateLog Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2005
That's really useful! I will take heed of your advice! Thanks a lot.
danielzklein Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2005  Hobbyist Writer
i wont edit coz lol its my stroy nad by editing ill dtesrtoy its suol!!!1

Otherwise, yeah, I've said this before, but you've said it better :) It's a lesson in common sense. (Don't think you'll EVER reach those out there still submitting badly typed never proofed furry erotica) (we'll just have to kill them)
MinorKey Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2005  Professional Writer
I've noticed we tend to rave on about how much bad writing exists on dA. I don't suppose I can do much about it really - but there didn't seem to be any guidelines, other than Suture's notes for beginning poets. So I thought I'd start with this...
jaime9526 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2005  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
on the other hand, anne rice's editor appears to be a figment of the publishers imagination (see the truly *awful* word "microprocessor" magically correct itself to "hard drive" on the next page in her last novel)
and shakespear or shakespear, or billy boy as I call him (bacon to some)
had an interesting grasp of spelling and grammar....
mind you I suppose literature was in its infancy.
I suppose the point I'm trying to make is...
the content does sometimes surpass its flaws.
And if you stop reading, you will never know.
And thats as much a shame for a reader, as a writer.
So be a lil forgiving.
'specially as Riting is Evolving aLL the time.
I blame bloody mobile phones dontcha know.
Plus its really easy to Typo if your fingers are buzzing across the keys, believe me. Sometimes you really *don't* want to read wot you wrote (as the play wot I wrote) because then you might not like it enough to set it free. And we creative types are what? Our own worst critic. Thats right.
Just a thought.
MinorKey Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2005  Professional Writer
I don't entirely disagree.
but I do a bit. Spelling has been fixed by the advent of movable type some hundreds of years ago. Language evolves, yes, words change their meaning... but for the most part typos and spelling errors are simply laziness.
Yes it is really easy to typo, I don't disagree. But it's also really easy to read your work before you submit, and to switch on a spell-checker - which will pick up most typos. And frankly, using 'were' when you mean 'we're' is not evolution. It's ignorance or laziness.

I'm not asking for perfection here, and you'd be surprised how forgiving I can be. I know people are learning and I don't expect professional standards here. But I do ask that artists take pride in their work if they want me to take that work seriously and spend time on it.

I can assure you that 90% of what I see here is not written by 'creative types' if, as you say, 'creative types' are their own worst critic.
just a thought. :)
csharpmajor Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2005

Yes! Yes! This is what we have been waiting for! I struggle to finish most written work on this site because all those errors just seem to scream "Stop reading! If the writer couldn't be bothered looking up the spelling of 'definitely' then what makes you think the story will be any good?" Bah.
koob Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2005   Writer
Errors don't bug me too much in writing. I usually have a lot :( but i'm getting better. Oops i forgot a comma after a lot oh well.

Anyways, i agree. If you can't take the time do use spell check, then the story must not be that great. Seriously, in newer word processors everything is underlined for you! i mean c'mon!
raspil Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2005   Writer
you win.

i agree with you especially on the points about making excuses for not checking for typos (Saying "I wrote this at 3am" or "I was high" doesn't excuse you at all.) and not reading a piece beyond the first typo or incorrect use of an intended word (you're/your, they're/their/there and similar atrocities). if someone thinks they are a writer and don't take the time to put some effort into a piece, they shouldn't be writing and posting here. really. if they can't be bothered to take a moment to use the spell-check, they shouldn't be surprised when their pieces aren't read or are read and ripped apart.

kudos to you.
Terri-Wilson Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2005
Excellent article! :clap: (And great use of *Windy999's dA Beastiary :D)

I seem to be in the minority here, but I actually like editing.
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