If you click on the Manuscript Presentation tab of this blog and then on Presentation, you’ll find a pdf document giving a lot of information about how to create standard fiction manuscripts. As a writer, tutor and competition judge I see a lot of work that’s not in standard format and, suddenly, IDEA! Instead of droning on and on about it and sending out email attachments, I decided to post it somewhere that it could easily be found.
I do think good manuscript presentation is important in the same way that washing your hair and shining your boots can be important when you’re attending a job interview. Editors and competition judges work with words and they notice poor presentation. The ‘rules’ are there for excellent reasons, too – double line spacing is quick and easy to read; large margins allow for notes to be made; a clear font is easy on the eye; ’empty’ lines between paragraphs disrupt the smooth flow of your story and make the reader think they’re reading a succession of scenes instead of a succession of paragraphs. (One of the greatest disservices that the creators of Word have done to writers is to make it the default for ’empty’ line space to appear whenever you press ‘return’. But it’s easy to fix – look at the presentation document for details.)
But what if you find good presentation a challenge?
Maybe you’re dyslexic or left school at 14 or were never at the same school long enough to learn properly?
Don’t let the preparation of the manuscript put you off. The storytelling is waaaaay more individual and creative and … and what you’re all about. You can always get someone to help you with the technicalities (offer to wash their car in exchange or something).
The story is the creative thing – the formatting is boring necessity.