Category: Diet

Paperback book chapter samples

Paperback book chapter samples

For smaples best results, save your formatted manuscript as Deals on discounted household necessities PDF. Capter is to say: not very much Bargain prices on cooking staples the short sampled of that very good year for short stories. Glossary A glossary comprises alphabetically arranged words and their definitions. Perhaps because of the technical nature of the content in these books, it seems easier for scientists and technical writers to cross-reference using numbers rather than textual names.

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Book Chapter Writing Tips

Paperback book chapter samples -

The sample chapter may be shown to peer reviewers, so you want the feedback they give you on the chapter to reflect the kind of feedback you might get on the book as a whole. You may need to go through peer review again with the full manuscript in order to get a commitment from the publisher.

If the submission guidelines say to send two or more sample chapters, then an intro plus body chapter is a good combo. In other words, your choice of sample chapters is not going to tank your submission. There is no set length for a chapter of an academic monograph. Editors and writing advice books give varying recommendations, usually somewhere from 8, words to 12, words.

The key principle to abide by is that all the material in the chapter should logically support the driving argument of that chapter and the story that chapter is trying to tell.

If your sample chapter is longer than 12, words and you have some sections or paragraphs that could feel like tangents or nonessential information for your reader, you might consider trimming them or trying to get your point across more concisely.

If they like your proposal, they will very likely ask you to send either some sample chapters or the full manuscript. At that point, you can ask any questions you have about which chapters might be best to send along. Even though they have the option not to open the attachment either way, it can be seen as presumptuous to send a full manuscript before it is requested.

Is a journal article ok? However, if you are a first-time book author, your editor will most likely want to see an actual chapter of your manuscript. But I would strongly encourage you to revise it so that it follows the format it will have in your manuscript, rather than just submitting the journal article as is.

Again, you can ask their preferences if you have the opportunity, but the safest route is to revise first. How should a journal article be revised when integrating it into a book manuscript? At minimum, you should make sure the argument advanced by the revised chapter relates intuitively to the overarching argument of your book.

You will likely need to rework at least the introduction and conclusion of the article to make that relationship clear. Simple: learn the rules of standard format , apply them consistently, and resist the temptation to gussy up your pages with unnecessary and distracting extra flourishes.

Remember, the little things do count. Still not convinced that presentation counts? Despite that fact, what percentage of this post has been devoted to the excellence of his prose?

That, my friends, is how closely professional readers scan pages — and, incidentally, why the pros very seldom waste much time on praising manuscripts they like. Why harp on it? Instead, the pros tend to do precisely what Heidi and I have done here: express their respect for a talented new writer by advising him, often quite directly and minutely, how his manuscript could be improved.

And pay all of you the compliment of treating you as if you know good writing when you see it. Well-deserved kudos to our winner, and once again, deep gratitude to Heidi Durrow for taking the time to share her powerful insights.

Remember to keep polishing those details, everybody, and keep up the good work! First, all of us here at Author! are wafting good wishes toward science fiction author Orson Scott Card , who suffered a mild stroke last Saturday. Second, a heads-up for Seattle residents and those lucky enough to live in her relatively snow-free environs: Heidi Durrow , author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky , will be giving a reading tonight at the Northwest African-American Museum S.

Massachusetts St. on Friday at p. and reading at Third Place Books Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park on Saturday at p. I shall be at the Saturday night event, so please do come up and introduce yourself! In other news, nominations for the Bloggies — which celebrate precisely what you think they do — are now open, and shall remain open through this coming Sunday, January 16th.

So if anybody out there should happen to admire any particular blog, this would be a lovely time to express that sentiment through a nomination , if you catch my drift. Earlier in this series, incisive reader Bruce seconded by sharp-eyed reader Elizabeth pointed out an issue that had somehow so far slipped between the cracks of Formatpalooza.

The first page of my novel begins with a dateline. How would you treat it? As a typical dateline, as in a mag or newspaper?

As a header? At first, I must admit, I was a trifle nonplused by this question. Had we not discussed the issue of inserting articles, letters, and journal entries earlier in this series and did not that jolly little monologue include discussion of how to include a dateline?

That earlier post did indeed show a couple of options for including a dateline for an article, letter, or diary entry imbedded within a non-academic manuscript. For guidelines covering this kind of long quote in academic work, please see that previous post.

One could introduce the relevant date in the text just before the excerpted bit:. That would work in either a fiction or nonfiction manuscript.

Nonfiction writers, however, also enjoy the option of using a boldfaced subheading. This format is especially popular for excerpting newspaper articles, as it would more closely resemble the way a reader might find it in a published book.

Take a gander:. If this same entry were to appear in a novel manuscript, however, the boldfacing would not be appropriate. Why the dichotomy? Pull out your hymnals and sing along now: in a novel manuscript, nothing whatsoever should be in boldface or underlined.

In a nonfiction manuscript, only subheadings may be in boldface. Everybody clear on that? It also turned up a self-styled expert ordering an eager questioner to use underlining instead of italics, which is flatly incorrect for a book manuscript.

The moral here: before you accept ANY formatting advice, make sure it is specifically aimed at your type of writing. Especially if the source leaves you guessing whether the rule being touted is intended to apply to short story submissions as, say, underlining to indicate italics would be or book-length works as in the imperative never to underline anything at all, under any circumstances.

Just because the words manuscript, submission , and writing may be applied to both of these wildly different venues does not mean that the expectations are identical in each. This is not a guessing game, after all. Actual standards do exist — they are merely industry-specific.

My point is — I honestly have had one lurking in the background throughout those last few paragraphs — one of the perennial problems faced by any aspiring writer trying to glean information online is the necessity for boiling complex concepts down to super-simple search terms.

Unfortunately, on the writing grapevine, definitional creepage is practically as common as complaints about how hard it is to land an agent in these trying times. The mind positively reels at the number of websites a curious writer might turn up by trying to find a little basic guidance on how to write one.

Well, primarily because not every date designation in writing is a dateline or, in its more common usage, date line. In journalism, a dateline is the bit at the beginning of the article that tells the reader the date and place from which the news within the article was reported, usually presented in all capital letters: SEATTLE, JANUARY Those of you addicted to looking things up will also be delighted to know that a date line is also how some earth scientists refer to the th meridian of longitude, better known to the rest of us as the International Date Line.

As a reasonable, sane human being, this definition did not even occur to me when I first read his question.

Search engines, however, are not human beings, capable of considering the larger context, but must instead rely solely upon the search terms fed into them. Why bring all of this up, rather than simply answering the original question?

Two reasons. First, as an explanation and apology to all of the future web searchers who will undoubtedly end up on this page after having fed the term dateline or date line into their preferred search engines.

Next time, you might want to add an extra term or to, to provide specific context. A lot of good writers out there seem to be frustrated by the results of insufficiently specific search terminology — and downright annoyed by the plethora of advice about ostensibly the same subject, when so many of the advice-givers are actually talking about different matters.

Please, if you can think of other ways you might conceivably search for this information, mention it in the comments, so it can turn up in future web searches. There is, however, a third and quite popular option: insert something that does in fact resemble a dateline in a newspaper article.

Obviously, though, one would not want to format it exactly like a dateline — one should not, for instance, present it in all capital letters or substitute it for the necessary indentation at the beginning of the first paragraph of text. Shout it out with me now: because a book manuscript should look like a book manuscript, not like any other kind of manuscript — or like any species of published writing.

It is governed by its own rules. So how might a savvy writer of books format such a thing? In other words, the space format restrictions at the top of the chapter should not change at all.

For fiction, it should look like this:. Do I spot some raised hands waving at me from the ether? For those of you bumping up against that page ceiling, the exchange might not be worth it. Thanks, Bruce and Elizabeth, for bringing this one up; I think the result has been a valuable addition to Formatpalooza.

Keep those great questions rolling in, everybody. Nowhere in modern life is this axiom more apt than in the vicious battleground that is airline seating.

In recent years, most airlines have opted to make the space between rows of passengers smaller; in order to cram more seats per plane, many have also quietly made the window seats and even the seatbelts on window seats slightly smaller as well.

Try comparing sometime with the belt in the middle seat. On the last airline flight during which I tried to compose a blog in mid-air, the last condition did not, alas, apply. A honeymoon couple — he awash in some pepper-based cologne, she beamingly bouncing her ring upon every row she passed, so all might see it glimmer in the light — evidently mistook their seats for two single beds.

Not only were their activities in them not, as my grandmother would have said, appropriate for every audience, but they seemed disappointed — nay, convinced — that their seats would not recline into a completely flat position, presumably so they could ahem elevate their performance art piece to the next level.

After the first time the lady in question caused my laptop to emit a loud crack of protest, I politely explained through the crack in the seats now about five inches from my face that the nearness of the rows rendered their desired level of reclining impossible.

Apart from the meal part, the honeymoon couple thought that would be just fine. How nice of me to suggest it. The hard-argued subsequent compromise involved my turning sideways, twisting one of my legs underneath me while resting, if it could be called that, my back against the window-side armrest.

If I gingerly balanced my laptop on the tray table of the seat to my left, I could barely manage to type. At least for the first twenty minutes or so. After that, they kept trying to recline their seats farther.

Apparently, I was being unreasonable to expect enough personal space to keep my laptop open the 90 degrees recommended by the manufacturer for optimal screen visibility.

Also, the lower the lid, the more one is tempted to draw conclusions about the fundamental difference between content producers and content consumers. To the recliners, the notion that I would so need to express myself on any subject that it could not wait until after we had landed was, I gathered, completely incomprehensible.

or some bizarre wedding-induced solipsism that made them sincerely believe that no other human happiness was important compared to theirs, I suspect something very simple was happening here: all three of us were basing our expectations of personal space not upon the current lay-out of the airplane, but our sense memories of what air travel had been in the past.

My body remembers fondly being able to operate a laptop in comfort on an airplane, and not all that long ago. Either that, or they were appallingly brought up. Either way, nobody was happy with the outcome. A similar failure to communicate often characterizes the initial interactions between an aspiring writer and those he hopes will help his work get into print: agents, editors, contest judges, freelance editors, and of course, our old pal, Millicent the agency screener.

Each side, in short, typically expects something different from the other than what the other believes he is expected to provide. If the communication gap is severe enough, each may even begin to suspect the other of violating expectations on purpose, just to be annoying.

The expectations are simply different, as often as not because each side has in mind some mythical period when perfect communication was the norm, rather than the exception. Millicent sighs for the mythical days when the truly gifted tumbled out of the womb with a complete understanding of both standard format and changing market conditions; the aspiring writer longs for the fantastic era when every submission was read in its entirety, every time, and editors took the time to work with promising new authors on every promising sentence.

Both sides are perfectly at liberty to sigh nostalgically, of course. But the fact is, none of these conditions ever prevailed on a large scale. Oh, well-advertised submission standards used to render looking professional a trifle easier, admittedly; back when the slush pile still existed at major publishers, a new author could occasionally leap-frog over a few levels of testing.

And undoubtedly, editors formerly had more time to work with writers. Things change. Those seats never reclined as fully as you remember them doing, either.

Those tray tables have never been particularly spacious. Always chintzy. Former comrades in arms, veterans of the writing trenches, have ceased speaking altogether over this issue; even judges within the same literary contest have been known to differ sharply on the subject.

Nor do the Millicents gather over steaming lattes to debate the niceties of labeling a chapter. One way looks right to us for a book manuscript, period: the first page of a chapter should be formatted precisely the same way as the first page of a manuscript.

The chapter title belongs at the top of the page centered if the manuscript is a book; as with the first page of a manuscript, the title appears at the top, with the text beginning twelve lines below. In a short story or article, by contrast, the title belongs twelve lines from the top of the page, on the double-spaced line above the text.

So yes, the spacing honestly does matter to the pros. The answer really is as simple as that. Why, then, the rampant confusion? And why, given that the difference is a relatively small one not necessarily reflective of the quality of the writing involved, might a professional reader like Millicent or Mehitabel the contest judge particularly care if a talented aspiring writer chose the wrong version?

As is my wont, I shall let you see for yourselves. To place the two vitriol-stained possibilities before you in all of their lush magnificence, the question here is should the first page of a book chapter look like this:.

Quite a visceral difference, no? The first version is in standard format for a book manuscript; the second is for a short story or article. Although, as we have discussed earlier in this series , the first page of a short story, it would also include contact information for the author.

Which means, in essence, that aspiring book writers who place the chapter heading immediately above the text are formatting it incorrectly for either a manuscript or a short story. The fact is, every week, Millicent sees huge numbers of submissions with chapter headings like the second example — and that makes her sigh.

Seem like an overreaction? Not really: Millicents, the agents who employ them, and contest judges see far, far more examples of version 2 than 1 in book submissions.

Many, many times more. I hasten to add, though, that I would be reluctant to buy into the astonishingly pervasive theory that if masses and masses of people do something, it automatically becomes correct. Ditto with manuscript submissions: as anyone who screens manuscripts for a living would tell you probably accompanied by a gigantic sigh , a much higher percentage of them are incorrectly formatted than presented properly.

Nor does it render it reasonable to expect that Millicent will be pleased to see a chapter title lolling about just above the text. I was delighted to discover when I moved to the East Coast for college that the moms out there were prone to asking the same question with reference to the Empire State Building.

There must be something about that particular period of architecture the GGB was built in , the ESB in that promotes suicidal ideation. As, I must admit, it does mine, as well as the brainpan of virtually every other professional reader I know.

Why is it so very puzzling to us, you ask? Although as I said, I do know agents who routinely ask for the shift in the other direction; mine, to name but one. At this point in publishing history, to hear a professional reader insist upon placing the chapter heading where you have to skip down a third of a page to read it would have me reaching for my smelling salts.

Do they even make smelling salts anymore? And if everyone else jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge clutching them, would I? Clearly, somebody out there is preaching the place-it-just-above-the-text gospel, because agents, editors, and contest judges are simply inundated with examples of this formatting anomaly.

Hordes of aspiring writers are absolutely convinced that the sky will fall in if that chapter heading is located anywhere but immediately above the text.

Sometimes, when those die-hard advocates become contest judges, they even dock correctly-formatted first pages for having the title in the right place. A word to the wise: editors universally hate it when their advice is ignored.

So do agents. Oh, and for the entrant to hear about it, the contest would have to be one of the few that gives editorial feedback.

The up v. down debate may seem like a rather silly controversy — after all, in the cosmic scheme of things, why should it matter if the white space is above or below the title? But that would not be proper in a book-length manuscript, would it?

That last bit would have been funnier if the entire page were readable, by the way, but my camera batteries were running low. Sorry about that. Which is not to say, of course, that this particular small deviation will automatically and invariably result in instantaneous rejection.

If a submission is beautifully written and technically correct in every other respect, she might only shake her head over the location of the chapter heading, making a mental note to tell you to change it between when her boss, the agent, signs the writer and when they will be submitting the manuscript to editors at publishing houses.

Ditto with book proposals. Hey, paper is heavy. As with other ploys to make a manuscript appear identical to a published book, binding the loose pages of a manuscript for submission will not win you friends in the publishing world.

Not only does this not look right I spared you the chanting this time , but it seems so wrong that Millicent will be positively flabbergasted to see a submitter to do it. She might, for instance, forget that her latte is still too hot to drink, take a sip, and scald her tongue. Not staples, not spiral binding, not perfect binding.

If you take nothing else away from this series, binding-lovers, I implore you to remember this. Why am I making you swear to follow my advice this time around? To ramp up your stress levels to the proper level to understand her, envision a desk simply smothered with an immense pile of submissions to screen before going home for the day.

Picturing that immense pile of envelopes clearly again? Okay, now slit open an envelope that reads REQUESTED MATERIALS on the outside. Unfortunately, times out of , the next sound a bystander would hear would be all of that nice, expensive binding grating against the inside of the SASE, just before Millicent tucks a photocopied form rejection letter on top of it.

Clearly, this submitter has not done his homework. And if he does not know either, how likely is he to be producing polished prose? bother to invest my time in reading it before it is? Again: sigh. I know, I know — this might not be a fair assessment in any individual case.

Despite my best efforts over the last few years, there are plenty of good writers out there who happen to be clueless about the rules of standard format. This is yet another expectation-differential problem.

Seem arbitrary? Think about it: if you saw a batter smack a baseball, then dash for third base instead of first on his way around the diamond, would you expect his home run to count?

I can go on like this for days, you know. Please, I beg you, say that you are getting the parallels, so I may move on. Let all of those other folks jump off the Golden Gate Bridge without you, I say. Everyone on the plane is trying to get to the same place, after all. By following the rules, you can make it a more enjoyable trip for all concerned.

Next time, I shall tackle a less-common but still virulent misconception. Because I love you people — and because so many of you have told me that you tune into Author! first thing in the morning, perhaps so you may peruse it while sipping your favorite caffeinated morning beverage — I would not present you with a close-up of a slug, stealthily or otherwise.

Have we been talking so intensely about the first couple of pages of your manuscript — the title page, the first page of text — that standard format has invaded your dreams yet?

In fact, as cosmetic issues go, how and where an aspiring writer chooses to place the page number on the page can tell our Millie a tremendous amount about him. Specifically, whether he has done his homework about submission, because there is only one place on a manuscript page that it is permissible to place a page number: in the slug line.

Is everybody quite sure where that is on the page? See the slug frolicking in the upper left-hand margin? How happy it looks in its natural habitat. This is as proper on page of a book manuscript as on page one.

I sincerely hope so, because the slug line confuses a lot of aspiring writers; until you have seen piles and piles of professional manuscripts, it looks kind of funny. So much so that to some would-be submitters, heads swimming from having been told over and over again that a manuscript should have a 1-inch margin on all sides, find it counterintuitive to add a line of text, even such a short one, within that margin.

And why? Yes, that logic is a trifle tautological, now that you mention it. If you have a problem with that, I would suggest taking it up with the powers that rule the universe. If I did , Microsoft Word would be set up to create documents in standard format automatically, Word for Mac and Word for Windows would be set up so those using one could easily give formatting advice to those using the other, air pollution would be merely a thing of distant memory, and ice cream cones would be free on Fridays.

Oh, and the little girl across the street who believes slugs are her totem animal would come to liberate her little friends from my garden on a daily basis, rather than on a monthly one. Back in the days when typewriters roamed the earth, it was perfectly easy to add a slug line to every page: all a writer had to do was insert it a half-inch down from the top of the page, left-justified, floating within the 1-inch-deep top margin.

The slug line still belongs in the same place,. But instead of laboriously typing it on each page individually as writers did in the bad old days, one simply inserts it in the header. Before the Luddites out there trot out their usual grumble about the bother of tracking down the bells and whistles in Word, think about this: placing the slug line in the header also enables the writer to take advantage of one of the true boons of the advent of word processing, pages that number themselves.

As opposed to having to do it manually, laboriously retyping the slug line in its entirety on each and every page of the manuscript. Oh, you may laugh, but several times each year, I receive a manuscripts constructed by a writer who was not aware that Word would do this for her.

Instead of utilizing the header function, the poor writer will have elected to include the necessary information on the first line of text on the page. Take a peek for yourself:. See how pulling the slug line down into the text messes with the spacing of the page?

Here, an entire line of text is sacrificed to it — and let me tell you, that line is not going to go quietly. How so, you ask? Trust me, it would be a heck of a lot of work, and writers who do it are likely to end up beating their heads against their studio walls.

Take a moment to peruse that last example again. See any other problems with the slug line? How about the fact that it includes the word page? Did I just hear some huffs of indignation out there? Well, you, for starters. Chanters, ready your lungs. Because it just would not look right to someone who reads manuscripts, book proposals, or contest entries on a regular basis.

Make her happy: do it the approved way. Okay, did you spot any other problems? What about the fact that the first character is in a different typeface from the rest of the text?

Or the equally disturbing fact that the first paragraph of the chapter is not indented? But once again, what an editor may decide, rightly or wrongly, is appropriate for a published book has no bearing upon what Millicent expects to see in a manuscript.

Save the manuscript illumination for someone who will appreciate it. Hop in your time machine and track down a medieval monk to admire your handiwork, if you like, but in this timeframe, keep the entire manuscript in the same typeface and size. The non-indented first paragraph of a chapter is fairly common in mystery submissions, I have noticed, and starting to become more prevalent in other kinds of fiction as well of late.

For an interesting discussion about why, please see the comments on this post and this one. Yes, you read that correctly: non-standard formatting choices are occasionally interpreted as a challenge to editorial authority.

And while we could speculate for the next week about the level of insecurity that would prompt regarding a minor formatting choice as a harbinger of incipient insurrection, is the manuscript of your first book really the right place to engender that discussion amongst Millicent and her cronies?

Save the formatting suggestions for a long, intimate discussion over coffee with your editor after she acquires the book. Until that happy, caffeine-enhanced day, just accept that the industry prefers to see every paragraph in a manuscript indented the regulation half-inch. Nothing in a manuscript should be in boldface.

Nothing, I tell you. Not ever. Except for that nonfiction exception we talked about last time. Nor should anything be underlined — not even names of books, magazines, or song titles.

Instead, they should be italicized, as should words in foreign tongues that are not proper nouns. Yes, Virginia, back in the day when typewriters roamed the earth, underlining was the norm, for the simple reason that most typewriters did not have italic keys.

should be underlined. But trust me on this one: any agent is going to tell you to get rid of the underlining, pronto. All right, campers, do you feel ready to fly solo into a critique of a first page?

Here are two pages of text, studded with standard format violations for your ferreting-out pleasure:. Are those problems just leaping off the page at you now? If not, ask yourself: does that first page contain information that ought to be on the title page instead?

Are the margins even? Are the paragraphs formatted correctly? And so forth. However literature-loving a she may be, she sees so many incorrectly-formatted submissions that a properly-formatted one automatically looks at first glance like more professional writing to her.

As, with practice, it will to you. I promise. To get that ball rolling, as well as to reward you for so much hard work — or to provide you with some helpful comparison, depending upon how you did on that last little test — here are a couple of correctly-formatted pages, to soothe your tired eyes:.

Or your book proposal? Or your contest entry? Did you notice that I snuck us from the first page of the text into the second in my last example? Hey, if treading the path of virtue is rewarded nowhere else on earth, it is here at Author! Do you want the short answers or the long ones, murmuring aesthetes?

The short are actually the same for both questions: because Millicent will take your writing more seriously if you format it as she expects to see it.

Pull out your hymnals and sing along: a manuscript should not resemble a published book in many important respects. A trifle broad-ranging a conclusion to draw from something as simple as font choice or a title page graced with a photograph? Let me try to put all of this into perspective for you.

Quick, tell me: did I take the photograph above while looking down into an abyss, sideways into an alcove, or up at an impossibly high ceiling?

Au contraire, mon fr? So how on earth is someone new to the game supposed to figure out which end of the manuscript is up, figuratively speaking? The trick lies in remembering that the principles governing manuscript formatting are practical and historical, not purely aesthetic.

And, frankly, distracting from the writing. Where you stand, in other words, depends on where you sit. From where Millicent is sitting, deviation from standard format demonstrates a lack of knowledge about how the industry works, not creativity. She has good reason to feel that way: because professional manuscripts and book proposals are formatted in a particular way, she knows that her boss, the agent of your dreams, would have a hard time convincing an editor at a major publishing house to read even the first page of an unprofessional formatted manuscript.

Which brings be back to where we left off last time, right? Yes, Virginia, a choice as small as a typeface can make an astonishingly great difference to how professional your work looks to the pros.

That comes as something of a surprise to most aspiring writers — who, not entirely surprisingly, tend to regard that particular decision as a purely aesthetic one.

Well, yes and no. Yes, good writing is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Here it is in point Times New Roman, one of the two preferred typefaces:.

Not enough so to appear to be, say, point font, but large enough to make Millicent wonder whether the word count is accurate. More on that below. And do you really want her speculating about your credibility before the first page of your manuscript? Does the increased volume of disgruntled ethereal muttering mean some of you want to see a typeface that might be a deal-breaker?

Not to mention hard to read. The moral: even the best writing may be placed at a competitive disadvantage by unprofessional presentation. Again, yes and no, hackle-raisers.

Naturally, the writing matters most in a submission, with freshness, audience-appropriateness, marketability, and fit with the agent or editor reading it jostling for second place.

Equally naturally, and something that I often point out here, individual agents, editors, and even contest judges harbor individual preferences as well and have been known to express them at conferences. Since few aspiring writers have access to the industry-specific information required to find out the preferences of every agent to whom they are submitting, adhering to standard format minimizes the probability of running afoul of unknown annoyance-triggers.

Adopting the norms of standard format and clinging to them like an unusually tenacious leech will also help you preserve your sanity throughout the often-protracted submission process.

The pet peeves one hears about are too often mutually contradictory, for one thing. In other words, adhere to the strictures of standard format, rather than assuming, as so many aspiring writers do to their cost, that the writing is the only thing that matters. Remember, where you stand depends on where you sit.

The age of miracles has not entirely passed, apparently. But — and this is a BIG but — these cases get talked about because they are exceptions , and rare ones at that. Excellent question, h-raisers. clat of a proverb, to borrow a phrase from Aunt Jane, for years to come amongst the writing community.

Okay, so that last is a slight exaggeration. Which is why, I must admit, I occasionally experience qualms about presenting the rules of standard format as inflexible rules. On the pro-regulation side, we are talking, after all, about an industry that both values creativity and considers submitting a book proposal in anything but a black folder dangerously radical.

On the con side, literally nothing else I talk about here consistently raises as much writerly ire. The very topic of presentation seems to be emotionally trying for a lot of writers — disproportionately so, from where Millicent is sitting.

If a bit defensive. Sometimes even within the course of the first paragraph. If a manuscript is hard to read due to a funky typeface or odd spacing or just plain poor print quality, Millicent may just pass on reading it at all.

While these phenomena are, in fact, quite widely recognized as true, the person who announced them this baldly from the dais at a literary conference would be covered head to foot with flung tomatoes in twenty seconds flat.

Metaphorically, at least. Have I got you sufficiently fired up about superficial manuscript prettiness yet? As I mentioned earlier in this series, I would highly recommend using either Times, Times New Roman, or Courier typefaces, both on the title page and in the manuscript as well.

Why is the question of estimating relevant on a title page? Was that giant gust of wind that just knocked my desk over your collective gasp of astonishment? Or, to put it another way, why would an agent or editor ask for the word count, then expect me to guess?

Would you fling something at me if I said once again that this is a matter of perspective? That makes perfect sense, does it not? And really, why should they be? And if you doubt that, consider the doubled dash vs.

the automatic emdash Word favors. Word processing programs came into use long, long after standard format for manuscripts, after all; why should agents, editors, and Millicents allow computer programmers to dictate what strikes them as professional?

Perspective, people: which makes more sense, assuming that the word count on your title page will be read by Millicent, or Bill Gates? I cannot, naturally, speak to Mssr. Finding the logic behind that is at all confusing? Now, in actual fact, a page manuscript in TNR is usually closer to , words than ,; as any writer who has compared the estimated word count for her book with the total her word processing program so kindly provides, they tend to differ wildly.

But word count, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder: a novelist whose title page reported, accurately, that her page novel was , words might well see it rejected out of hand on the grounds that it was too long.

I could give you a long song and dance about how much her wrists hurt from opening all those query envelopes all day, or how her secret midnight e-mail orgies have rendered pinching a torture, but in practice, the answer is far less personal than practical: because the word count is right there on the title page.

Tell me, oh submitters: why on earth should she doubt its accuracy? But her chair boasts a different view than ours. Besides, how exactly could she manage to turn to page of a manuscript, when her boss requested that the writer send only the first 50, without resorting to some pretty impressive maneuvering through time and space?

Note how many fewer words per page it allows:. Got both of those firmly imbedded in your brainpan? Now format your first pages that way for the rest of your natural life.

Okay, take a gander at the same first page, not in standard manuscript format. See how many differences you can spot:. To Millicent, who reads hundreds of pages per day, the differences between the last three examples could not be clearer. Also, the page is numbered in the wrong place — the default setting, incidentally, in many word processing programs.

In all probability, none of these infractions against the rules of standard format are serious enough to cause Millicent to toss a submission aside as soon as she notices them. Remember, where a manuscript stands depends upon where the reader sits. Her reception of that last example is very likely to be different before Dickens became a household name or after, although once he was established.

And if you do happen to be famous, could I interest you in writing a back jacket blurb? The longer you remain in the business, the more those little things will strike you as just, well, matters of right and wrong. As, fortunately or not, they do Millicent and her ilk.

Come to think of it, that sense of fitness may well be the reason that discussions of formatting tend to become so vitriol-stained: we all like to be right, and after all, propriety is in the eye of the beholder. After all, each of us is most familiar with the view from her own chair.

From the myopic tight shot, it was far less obvious that this was a cathedral. Making sure your writing is framed properly can have a similar effect. More show-and-tell follows next time, of course. Have you been enjoying these last few winning entries in the Author!

Great First Pages Made Even Better Contest , campers? Worse, his friends are all moving on, following their dreams, and getting off the planet Hartwell. When he and his best friends reach Luna City, Zheng stumbles across what looks like a scholarship scam, but his investigative mind uncovers the truth…revealing an alien organization quietly preparing the human race for galactic culture.

Now Zheng knows what he wants to do: he intends to culturally prepare the aliens for humanity. Yet from the first page of text, it is not entirely clear whether this is a YA book. And already, hands have sprouted up all across the galaxy.

How on earth did you manage to cram all of the sentences in the original onto the revised page? Oh, that was easy, galactic nitpickers: I merely eliminated one of the two single-sentence paragraphs. As we have discussed before, in English prose — at least of the non-journalistic variety — it takes at least two sentences to make up a narrative paragraph.

So while single-sentence paragraphs are fine in dialogue, Millicent tends to frown at them anywhere else, at least in fiction submissions. The higher the education level of the intended audience, the more negative her reaction will be.

That way, the very rarity of its occurrence will add to its impact. Standing all by itself, that statement is much more startling than if it were merely tacked onto the end of the preceding paragraph — or, sacre bleu!

buried in the middle of it. Or, if the information is once-in-a-manuscript important, in its own one-line paragraph. Most Millicents would have. Obviously, some of it is unavoidable — place and people names do need to sport capital first letters, after all — but some is by choice.

Compounding the problem: many of these choices appear quite close to each other in the text. Not sure why that might be distracting for our Millie? See if anything in particular jumps out at you:. Do you notice anything about them? That particular verb appears in various forms no fewer than 14 times on this page.

Any guesses? All of those it was constructions are indeed in the passive voice: instead of actors doing things, the sentences presents things as occurring all by themselves. Again, this is rather more accepted in YA than in adult fiction, and the younger the target reader, the more acceptable the passive voice is deemed to be.

And yes, both of those last two sentences were in the passive voice. Take another gold star out of petty cash. Unfortunately for lovers of to be and it was , most Millicents — indeed, most professional fiction readers — are explicitly taught that the passive voice is the least creative way of saying, well, almost anything.

So opening a book with several instances of it in a row might well raise some professional eyebrows. It is worth noting, however, that the only judges who were not bothered by this were the YA authors.

Again: norms vary by book category. Even better, you could buy new releases in your chosen category. Did you spot any other potential distractions from the story here?

Ah, at last we are starting to talk about plot and characterization. The story definitely drops the reader into an exciting conflict right away — good move, Janine! Is the gravity heavier on Luna than on Hartwell, for instance, or lighter? Is Does the sunshade affect how plants grow? Another prime target for descriptive expansion is the crowd.

Are the people in the room all humanoid? Are any of them humanoid? Who is the group, and how can Zheng tell that they are the ones in authority — over and above the death threats, that is? Are the con artists restrained in any way? Is he? Are they close enough together to create a distinctive smell, or to increase the heat in the room?

The possibilities here are practically endless; just remember that unless the narrative gives the reader hints of what the environment and characters looks, sound, smell, taste, etc. Not sure what the latter might look like in practice?

I want to talk about two more pieces of marginalia, then I shall move to the punch line. In the next-to-last paragraph, the narrative between the dialogue indulges in a few devices quite common for a submission, but rare in published books. Did you spot all three? First, the adverb in the initial tag line, stiltedly , is a trifle awkward — and all the more likely to be noticed as such, because there was an entire generation of English students taught to avoid using adverbs in tag lines at all.

Some of you must remember that old writing truism, right? The dialogue itself should demonstrate to the reader just how things were said; lose the -ly words, already.

This writing advice is far less common now, and its adherents certainly less vitriolic, than way back in the day, but it was so influential that millions of Baby Boomers ran terrified out of their English classes, absolutely convinced that they should never use adverbs, ever.

Why should a writer of today worry about that misconception? Millicent may be the child of one of those students. Or the grandchild. Or — brace yourself — the employee. The causative to construction is fairly common in submissions, used to indicate that what happens after the to was in response to what came before it.

Unfortunately, a skimming eye often misses the implication. Heck, we can even toss in one of those much-maligned adjectives:. The swindlers around the room fidgeted uncomfortably. If the speaker did something more specifically threatening, the menace in could be heightened considerably.

Perhaps even by employing an adverb! Re-read that first page: does this voice and worldview strike you as inherently and necessarily YA? Adults drop students off at college all the time, right?

Since we liked the voice, the premise, and the leap right into conflict — well done, Janine! Out comes the broken record player again:. YA has its own distinctive conventions, particularly with respect to voice and subject matter. If it is not apparent from the first paragraph of page 1 that a manuscript is YA, even the best-written YA manuscript runs the risk of rejection on that ground alone.

Not sure in this case? Take another peek at that first page, then ask yourself: is the central conflict of this scene one to which a teenager could relate?

Particularly the part about not speaking up about it. would also be more likely to appeal to teenage sensibilities than those of adult readers; in adult fiction, superlatives and extremes tend not to play as well. A different definitional ambiguity troubled the judges in the book category description.

In answer to the question how will this manuscript add something new and exciting to its book category? Janine provided the judges with a rather interesting response:.

Which Star My Destination takes the themes of exploration and road trips to grand scale by involving the entire universe.

It also reminds us that, different personalities aside, teenagers are faced with the same situations and feelings, even in the far-flung future. Plus, spaceships! saved this description at judging time, frankly; blanket assertions often raise more questions than they answer in book descriptions.

Other, more historically-minded judges wondered how we could be certain that teenagers in the far future would face the same situations as those today, as it would be difficult to argue that the teenagers of two hundred years ago did, or even the teens of thirty years ago, when feelings-based YA really hit its stride as a book category.

Basil E. Frankweiler , where two children run away from an apparently perfect home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; if it were written now, there would be some serious problems in that household, and at least one responsible adult would experience some qualms about sending those kids back.

All agreed that the combination was a potentially powerful one. Why is that important for a submitter to know? It had better compare favorably. Current YA writers also reap the benefits of writing during an exciting burgeoning of the category. Boundaries are being pushed; experiments are being wrought, and a diverse array of individual voices of unprecedented complexity is being welcomed.

And yes, all of that was in the passive voice; good eye. Janine is poised to take advantage of this expansion with a story that seems interesting, exciting — and a whole lot of fun.

Just what a road trip should be. Yes, yes, I know: I have not been in the habit of giving subtitles to the prize posts in the Author! Turbulence fought penmanship, and I fear that for the most part, turbulence won. Specifically, on their electronic readers. Or even alarmed at the prospect of your meticulously-formatted pages being read on that small a screen?

Of course, this is only likely to be the case at agencies that accept electronic submissions. Which just goes to show you: electronic submissions can be pretty well traveled. What could be easier than that? What, indeed? Unless, of course, your electronic submission has been downloaded to an electronic reader.

Or even be sure who did write it. Scary prospect, is it not? Breathing into a paper bag should reverse that hyperventilation within a couple of minutes. Surely, my original e-mail would be in there, right?

Possibly, but do you have any idea how many e-mails an agency that accepts electronic submissions receives in any given week? Or even on any given day? Forget about finding a needle in a haystack — Millicent would be looking for a needle in a hay field. How is that possible?

To avoid the title ending up with the slug line that every other page in the manuscript should feature in its top margin, select DOCUMENT from the FORMAT menu in Word, then choose LAYOUT. The second page of the document is now page 1!

If Millicent misplaced my original e-mail, she could just do a search of her inbox under my last name. Problem solved! Quite true, oh gaspers — provided that you included a slug line. You would be positively amazed at how many electronic submitters or, heck, paper submitters do not.

How much difference could the omission possibly make to a submission that did not go astray, you ask? Well, since the fine folks who read manuscripts for a living expect every page of every manuscript to include a slug line, quite a bit.

See for yourself. As does another small formatting change: two spaces after the colon in the Part I designation, rather than the original one. Some of you former wheezers have your hands in the air now, I see.

There are more words in the second version, are there not? The last sentence on each page is different. Well spotted, ex-hyperventilators.

The difference between the first page and the second is that the first is in TextEdit, the second Word. The judges decided not to disqualify entrants for this, primarily because it would afford me such an excellent opportunity to talk about why this would not be a good way to submit electronically to an agency or publishing house.

Word is, quite simply, the U. industry standard — when an agency asks submitters to send pages as attachments to e-mails, they mean a Word attachment. Specifically, a. doc document, not a. docx document, since many agencies are running older versions of Word.

If they are running a really old version of Word, you may have to send your pages as a. rtf document, so they will be able to open it. You should honor this expectation; send any requested materials in Word, not TextEdit or any other word processing program you happen to favor.

The fact that it is possible for a Word user to do as I did, convert a TextEdit document into Word, does not mean that Millicent will necessarily be willing to do it; after all, her boss would not be able to submit your book electronically to an editor at a publishing house that way.

Or just stick around here at Author! for December, when I shall be going over the rigors of standard format again.

So dig out your long-harbored formatting questions, people! Besides, as we saw above, the formatting is not always identical. The slug line contains a first name, sixteen-year-old is not hyphenated a mistake that I have been seeing more and more over the last couple of years; is this rule not being taught anymore?

Once again, we see what a big difference seemingly small formatting issues can make. Actually, tinkered-with spacing between paragraphs is fairly common in submissions.

She also raises an interesting point that affects the marketability of many realistic novels. And she does it primarily through showing, not telling: the level of practical detail here is excellent.

Teja comes across here as an ordinary person, not an extraordinary one. However, as we have seen throughout our discussions of all of our Great First Page Made Even Better winning entries, Millicent tends to make up her mind about whether she wants to follow a protagonist onto page 2 based exclusively on page 1, not the synopsis or brief description in the query letter, a too-ordinary-seeming protagonist may not provide the temptation to read on she wants.

Fortunately, this is a very easy fix: Teja merely has to exhibit some extraordinary quality on page 1.

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