For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?
Originally, I was going to skip over this, because I thought it seemed a little obvious. But then I thought, maybe not.
This publisher simply hated the idea of “and then”. They said: “And then is not a proper conjunction. And is a proper conjunction… use for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so which are considered “proper” conjunctions.”
I did a search in my own manuscript, and found 73 instances of “and then”. Honestly, I was a little surprised to find so many in my story. The more I thought about it, every instance is like a laundry list “tell sequence”.
Matt did this, and then he did that, and then he did that. (It was not quite so blatant, but you get the idea) If you think about it, it’s kind of funny. I know when I was beta reading the manuscript for my BP, the “and then’s” did pop out here and there, but I just figured it was writing style. I didn’t particularly like it, but I let it go. I didn’t even realize I was doing it myself. Now that I’m re-reading with these comments in mind, they are popping out and blaring: No No No!
So, my advice is, do what I did: Do a search/replace on your manuscript just for starters. Search for “and then” and replace with “and then” (just make sure you spell it correctly) It won’t change anything, it will just give you a count of how many times you did it. If it’s a lot, search again and start editing!
This is an easy fix. I’m not saying this will bother every publisher, but if it’s a pet peeve of one publisher, it will probably bother another one, or two, or three. Personally, I’m not willing to take a chance and let them go now that I realize what I’ve done.