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Manuscript 101–What else?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What else needs to be covered in the basics of formatting a fiction manuscript? We’ve covered:

Manuscript 101–the Book List
Manuscript 101–Introduction & Basic Manuscript Format
Manuscript 101–Comma, wherefore art thou?
Manuscript 101–The Apostrophe’s Dilemma
Manuscript 101–Where do I put the “quotation marks”? (which includes information on using ellipses and em dashes)

What other major technical formatting/grammatical issues are out there? ‘Cause I’m really wanting to start writing about something other than the stuff that I deal with at work every day. 🙂

(I’d like to start discussing characterization and point of view . . .)

7 Comments
  1. Saturday, June 9, 2007 7:58 pm

    Maybe off-topic, but I was wondering about whole (working) manuscripts.

    -How many pages are you working with in a document?
    -Do you keep the whole book together?
    -How do you streamline the actual finding of a particular place to work (do you do it by giving all your chapters headings)?
    -How do you keep from getting bogged down in the first 15 pages during the re-write (Makes me think of the saying that software is never released– it escapes)?

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  2. Saturday, June 9, 2007 8:39 pm

    Amy–
    This is something that varies from author to author. I personally work with each chapter saved as its own document through at least the second if not third draft of the manuscript. Each file is just saved under the chapter number–under My Documents–>Novels–>Book Title–>Draft Number–>01.doc, 02.doc, etc.

    Then, when I am confident that there may be only minor changes–one change per thirty or forty pages, I will copy and paste everything into one document, inserting a page break ([ctrl][enter]) at the end of each chapter so that the next chapter doesn’t move down the page. By that time, any changes that need to be made are usually coming back to me in separate files/hard copy, so I can do a search for the specific phrase where I need to make the correction. If I need to find a specific chapter, I can do a Find for Chapter Three or whatever the chapter number is.

    I don’t have problems getting bogged down at the beginning of the revision process because I’m usually so much more clear on what the story is and how it needs to start that I’m excited about moving forward with it and tying it all in together.

    Anyone else want to chime in on this one?

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  3. Monday, June 11, 2007 11:10 am

    I don’t have anything to add, having not gotten that far yet myself, but I can imagine pros and cons to working with a doc for each chapter. Pros: If you have a PC blip, you won’t lose the whole thing. Cons: Could be a lot of documents. Not sure how complex it would be to keep up with multiple versions of each. (Kaye, if you do major restructuring of say, chap 4, does the entire doc then become version 2 or only that chapter?)

    Ready for characterization and POV.

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  4. Monday, June 11, 2007 11:20 am

    If I make major changes to just one or two chapters within a manuscript draft, I’ll rename the original chapter file 04a.doc and then make the changes in the 04.doc file–that way, I haven’t lost my original stuff (just in case I decide to go back), but I also haven’t replicated 20-30 other chapters in a new draft folder when it’s just the one that’s changed.

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  5. Monday, June 11, 2007 2:36 pm

    Like you Kaye, I’ve always had separate files for each chapter, then saved to one doc at the end. But for some reason this time I’ve got them in separate files, then immediately pasting into the master. Not sure why I switched it up, other than that it seemed cumbersome last time with multitudes of documents for each chapter–then when it came time to paste I had to sift through all the docs.

    Ready to move on….

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  6. Monday, June 11, 2007 3:50 pm

    One more question about the doc per chapter bit:
    What happens when you add/change material and re-break the chapters? How do you keep that from becoming insanity?

    (I’m at the re-write stage and like the idea of shorter docs to work within, but my chapters are not set in stone).

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  7. Monday, June 11, 2007 9:28 pm

    I’ve written both ways- seperate files for each chapter and everything in one document. Right now I prefer one document. Who knows though, that might change in 10 years, lol.

    Since I often skip around a lot and am not entirely sure which scene goes in which chapter, the all in one file method works best for me.

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