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Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In... : General Questions & Discussions • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Spinners
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Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Spinners » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:36 am

While I've read various books on both publishing and self-publishing, I have yet to find a mention of the basics. What is the proper manuscript form for a novel? I'm talking margins and headers, indentation, double spacing (when printed books are single spaced), and the big rhubarb of the modern age: one or two spaces after a period? Is there a good resource someone can recommend that clearly presents all you should know about this? ...ellipses and the hyphen vs. dashes (en dash, em dash)? The list is endless!

Back in high school (in the Stone Age), I believe we were taught AP rules for what was called "manuscript form". Perhaps this is called "style" now, but the term bugs me. [Style, to me, refers to the writer's own "signature" way of writing, doesn't it?] My teen daughter says there are so many more formats now (beyond AP) - each with its own specific purpose. How can one know which ONE to use...and its specific rules? Thanks from a newbie...

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby pls » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:47 am

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shadowwalker
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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:52 am

This echoes what I've found most places:



Note that specific agents/publishers may have variances on those guidelines, so you need to double-check before submitting. If you're self-publishing, then check whichever "formatter" you're going with (Createspace or whomever). [My question: What does one call those companies, anyway?]

Double spaces after periods went out a long time ago. Personally, I've never paid attention to "m-dashes" versus hyphens (it's a horizontal line, big deal) but things like that you can find in a current high school grammar book.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Spinners » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:04 pm

Thanks to all! I have to agree with the n-dash vs. m-dash thing. It's snobby, at best. A horizontal line IS a horizontal line....other than hyphenated words. As for spaces after periods, it's ironic... I started typing at an early age. I never understood the need for two spaces after a period. A period IS a period! Yet, here we are full circle!

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby pls » Sat Mar 12, 2016 10:26 am

Hyphen and m-dashes are used for different purposes. Note the hyphen in "m-dash", for example. The m-dash is used between groups of words, although there's disagreement as to use spaces to separate them from the words. (I use spaces; many others do not, but you should be consistent in your use of spaces.) Microsoft Word will change a hyphen to an m-dash, usually, when it's placed between groups and separated from them by spaces.
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Dreaming Imrryr
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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Dreaming Imrryr » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:53 pm

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Last edited by Dreaming Imrryr on Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Spinners » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:05 pm

OK, stupid question... How do you know AP is the preferred style and not Chicago? (Is this written in some secret Dead Sea scroll defended by the Authors of the Lost Manuscript?)

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby pls » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:19 am

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Spinners » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:05 pm

Thanks again!

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Re: Back to Basics: Please Clue Me In...

Postby Spinners » Mon May 02, 2016 9:26 pm

Digging a little deeper, I actually checked out the AP style manual (although the actual title eludes me now). This version was copyright 1994, a little dated. The book was really written for the hard-core journalist with emphasis on proper capitalization of words that may frequently appear in print, how a sports writer should format box scores, and other esoteric topics. There was very little on formatting for a novelist. So, I fail to see the value here. ...Am I missing something?

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