Posted in formatting, learning, writing

Writing Fiction – Layout

6Layout

To see how fiction layout works, check out the books on your bookshelf. Notice how the paragraphing and dialogue are formatted. This will give you a general idea but it is worth remembering that the work you submit to publishers and agents should be formatted slightly differently.

Here are some general guidelines (some of them might be superseded by specific formatting requirements requested by particular editors, publications or competitions – and some may differ in different countries; these are guidelines for the UK).

Besides helping you to produce readable, uncluttered manuscripts, this will get you into the habit of presenting your work as required by publishers and any critical readers who may offer feedback:

  • Number your pages. This is normal, professional practice and makes it easier for your reader to refer to particular points when giving feedback.
  • Give your story a title.
  • Use double-line spacing.
  • Set margins at each side of at least 3 cm (in most cases, this is the default setting).
  • Don’t justify lines to the right-hand margin.
  • Use a 12-point standard serif font (i.e. Times New Roman or similar), especially when submitting paper copy. Some online submissions now require sans serif font (i.e. Arial).
  • The first line of every paragraph should be indented, with the exception of the first paragraph in each chapter or section.
  • Generally, there should be no line space between paragraphs, except when a line space between paragraphs is used to indicate a section break (i.e. a change of scene; a viewpoint switch; or some time has passed).
  • The first line of the next paragraph following such a line space should not be indented.
  • Asterisks can be used to draw attention to a significant section break but shouldn’t be overused.

Readers will have big problems and potentially get very confused if the layout isn’t clear. Before you get to the editing stage with your story, check that the format and layout of your piece is readable and that you have followed all the guidelines on layout.

Advertisements

Author:

Dreams can come true and mine was to live in Spain forever and ever ....  Well, after studying languages many years ago I became totally enamoured with all things Spanish, I finally made the big move for a more 'relaxed' lifestyle in 2003.  Since then, I have been teaching Spanish to Ex-pats and translating. Also, I trained as a Community Manager (Social Media) so that I have a genuine excuse to be on Facebook, Twitter and the Internet for hours on end, but then I started to write. My first attempt was for NaNo 2012 with 'The Nasrid Charm' (a story set in Spain and the Afterlife.) Like most first drafts, this is in need of serious revision and has been placed on the backburner, while I pursue my mystery stories. I'll get back to it - one day :) 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s