Dave McChesney (vespican) wrote,
Dave McChesney

Thoughts on Writing 29

#AmWriting #IndieAuthor #WritingCommunity

It's been nearly two weeks since I've posted here on this particular topic, so I suppose we might continue on with my understanding of standard format.

Not at all related to the subject matter, but here is the complete cover for the newest Stone Island Sea Story.
If I haven't mentioned it before, manuscripts are traditionally printed on only one side of the page and they are not bound or fastened in anyway.  Typically they are mailed in special boxes.  Once they reach the agency or publisher they are likely to be passed around and routed from one individual to another.  It's very easy for their pages to shift out of order, become lost or even mixed in with other manuscripts.  How do we know whose manuscript it is and what page we are dealing with?  Coming to our rescue, the slug line!

The slug line is simply the information we need to identify each page as to where it fits in numerical order, who wrote the story and what the story's name is.  Typically they go in the upper margin of each page (other than the title page we talked about last time).  They generally contain the author's name, the story(or book) title and the page number separated by slashes.  For my first book it looked like this:  MCCHESNEY/BEYOND OCEAN'S EDGE/237.  (A completely random page number for purposes of illustration.)  In most cases one can shorten things up and abreviate a little.  It is generally acceptable to put it all in caps.  Some prefer that it be aligned left and others prefer it aligned right.  A few in the industry might want it spaced across the top of the page, with the author on the left, the title in the middle and the page on the right.  And it is my understanding that there should be no brackets or flourishes around the page numbers.  If you are entering a literary contest, check carefully as to how they want the slug line done.  Many times contests are blind so you will want to make sure your name/the author's name is not there or the entry will be disqualified.  It's also possible it will be disqualified if other specific directions are not followed, such as placing the slug line to the left when the contest rules specifically said to put it on the right.

Yeah, that sounds a little chicken, but contests and even agents and publishers often use things like that to lessen the amount of entries or submissions they have to go through.  And that's why if you are submitting, trying to be published in the traditional manner, you should know as much about standard format as you can, and why you should always check an agency's or a publisher's submission guidelines.  They like it when something is received that follows standard format and their guidelines to the letter.

Early on I mentioned that a manuscript in standard format should, as much as possible, look like it had been created on a typewriter.  Even so, there are a couple of areas where we can step away from what was possible with the typewriter.  We can actually put things in italics via our computer/word processor instead of underlining as we would when handwriting or typing something.  And it's sometimes permissable to bold your book's title on the title page, although I understand not everyone is on board with this practice.  But, we don't want to change font or font size.  It's unlikely that someone using a typewriter would have had access to a second machine with a different type style and a different size (elite or pica) type.

There's often discussion on social media about people (like me) who still use two spaces after a period or other sentence ending punctuation.  Most feel we no longer need to do that, but I suppose I do it out of habit, and for a manuscript I beiieve it should be there, again because of the idea that we are duplicating a type written document.  And that extra little space can come in handy for those who might edit on paper and in ink.  Of course, if the place you are submitting to specifically states they only want one space after a period, give them what they want.

Next time I'll try to tie up any loose ends on this topic and then get on to something else.
Tags: #amwriting, #indieauthor, #writingcommunity, literary contest, manuscript format, thoughts on writing

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