How to Format a Manuscript

There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.

First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.

I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.

The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!

Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!

First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,

  • FONT
    Most common: Courier (any varieties)
    Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
  • COVER PAGE
    Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
    Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
    Email address
    Phone number
    Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
    Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
    Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
    by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
  • PAGE NUMBERING
    In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
    LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
    This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
    Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
  • END PAGE
    At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
    This will signify the end of the manuscript.

Now for the example PDF: This is an Example

I hope that helped! Did it? Is there something else you’d like to know? Anything that didn’t make sense or that you wish I had covered? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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My “Gay” Project

One of my longtime projects has been a book based around a gay couple with a shared passion for music. Now that the project is getting closer and closer to reaching its end, I have been giving out a few copies to my most reliable beta readers.

Well, now I have no beta readers.

Why?

They all said that it would be better if the couple was straight.

I asked them why.

They said, “Because it just would.”

Now, these beta readers have been my friends for a long, long time, but I’d rather have no friends if that is how they truly feel about it. They gave me no real evidence or reasons to change them, yet they still demanded they be changed. If they had given me at least one decent reason, I may have at least thought about it, but, chances are, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Sure, I may be a little harsh about all of this, but their words and feelings about this truly resonated with me and made me start to think.

Why had I made them gay?

I don’t think it had ever been a conscious decision. It just happened. It felt right for it to be that way. The two characters were perfect for each other (in my own opinion, of course), and by changing one of them into a girl… it just wouldn’t feel that way anymore.

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I care about my characters. I want them all to be happy, but not without trials and learning situations. I want to give them the most realistic life as I possibly can. Sure, it sounds crazy, but I truly believe the story wouldn’t mean as much or be as realistic as I had always dreamed it would be if I changed my characters. Even a minor gender change would feel wrong.

Chances are, some of you are reading this and clicking the “unfollow” button as quickly as your fingers can muster, but I hope some of you stop and think for a second. About what? Well, that’s up to you. I never meant for this book/blog to ever hold a political stance or statement, and I still feel this way.

This is all about art. I want my art to be everything I had imagined it would be. I never meant to single someone out or make anyone feel uncomfortable, but I do want people to think and to feel. Whether it was positive or negative, I will stand by it. It’s up to you how you perceive things like this. So, now I must ask you, how do you feel about it?

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

Writing Resources

After my editing post and receiving so much feedback, I have decided to dedicate a post to the resources which I use to write, but, in writing this I also came up with a new editing technique I will be sharing with everyone on Friday. It is one that I have paired alongside my original technique, which is something everyone can do if they wish to incorporate this technique into their own techniques. I will be hinting at it occasionally in this post, but details will come along on Friday. Now, onto my resources (with pictures, of course)!

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  • A Typewriter
    They’re old, yes, and they do not have word counters or the fancy spell checks, but they were once used to write thousands upon thousands of manuscripts. Unless you get one of the newer models, which are essentially retro computers. I wouldn’t personally want one because to me it loses the value an old school typewriter has to give. They require a lot more effort as far as a writer is concerned which is why I am a huge advocate of them. They help you learn things much quicker because they force you to look things up yourself and make you look for that dictionary you’ve had since kindergarten. They make a writer more self-reliant. However, not all of them come at a very cheap price. I got mine from my boyfriend’s uncle which is the best way to get them. Find an older family member and ask around. There is usually one in every family, just takes a bit of looking around.

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  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (2nd Edition)
    This book is an absolute lifesaver. I am a big of fan of lists, especially checklists because they help me feel like I’m getting things done. This book is full of them. Every chapter deals with a set of issues that every fiction writer has ever had using famous works as examples and models. Then, at the end of the chapter they have checklists which you can use to go through your manuscript with. You can find it relatively cheap on Amazon, and you can also just buy the first edition if you’re in a major money crunch. Not much is different between the two editions except for chapter placement and a few word variations.

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  • Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Samburg and the editors of Writer’s Digest Books (3rd Edition)
    Another lifesaver I use. This is best utilized after editing is done, but don’t rely on it too heavily. It has all the bare bones necessary for writing query letters, fiction manuscripts, non-fiction manuscripts, and even the lost art of the “thank you” letter. It’s great for learning the formatting of everything, but there are a few things which need to be tailored differently depending on the person/house you are sending it to. Make sure you read guidelines carefully. This book also has pictures and examples of general manuscripts with helpful side notes. A must for any writer who seeks publication.

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  • Scrivener
    Scrivener is a new technology in the world of word processing and picking up speed every day with writers. I absolutely love it. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I’m fairly tech savvy when it comes to computers, but this piece of tech is most certainly NOT user-friendly. YouTube has a fair amount of tutorials if you’re a visual learner, but you will need to find something to help teach you how to use this bit of tech. There is a user-manual and tutorial built into the program, but even it has a bit of a learning curve to it. What is great about this once you learn to use it is the fact that you can keep character sheets, note cards, outlines, and everything else together in one large file, but have it completely separate so you can move it around and edit it without affecting the entire manuscripts. It also has different templates already set-up for manuscripts which saves a lot of time, but don’t become too reliant on it.(Here is a post by Jon Stone, which I believe sums up Scrivener quite well! Check it out!) Make sure to check other sources to make sure it isn’t formatting something strangely.

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  • Elements of a Good Scene Worksheet
    This is a neat little sheet that I use sometimes to go through chapter-by-chapter and “cut the fat,” if you will, off some of my heftier parts. It’s a good little learning tool and can help transform your style into something much more engaging with each use of it.

Well, that is all I have for you today. I hope someone out there found this useful and is forging ahead in their literary endeavors. Regardless, happy writing!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy