Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tips for a Writing Beginner: Part 2 - Presenting your Manuscript

by Anna Jones Buttimore


We all learn about grammar, spelling and punctuation in school, and I would hope that anyone embarking on writing a novel has a pretty good grasp of the basics. But what they don't teach you in school is how your book should be laid out, formatted, and presented to a publisher or agent. If you've been used to writing essays, emails, blog posts, or other differently formatted work, you may not be used to the way novels and other books are generally expected to be set out.

If you're submitting to agents or publishers, check their website to see what guidelines they give about how your work should be presented. Failing to adhere to them is a very quick way to get your precious novel rejected immediately.

Although there may be slight variations, these are generally standard:
  • Wide margins, Times New Roman 12 point font (or similar) and double spacing
  • Each chapter starting on (generally, halfway down) a new page. 
  • Each paragraph (except the first in each chapter) indented at least 1cm. No additional line breaks between paragraphs unless indicating a scene break, and only one space between sentences.
  • Ellipses ... used to indicated trailing off, or broken speech.
    "But I thought you knew..."
  • Em-dashes used to indicate a cut-off sentence, when speech is interrupted.
    "But I thought you knew--"
    "How could I have known!" he interrupted.
  • Pages numbered continuously - don't restart the numbering with each chapter.
It might be a good idea to start writing your novel according to this format so that you can get used to how it should look, and get into good habits. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Anna! Good stuff I didn’t know. :-)

    ReplyDelete

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