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Thread: Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 2

  1. #1826
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    4) It is Totally Unnecessary to put Every Single Friggin' Page in a separate file (e.g. Page001.doc, Page002.doc, Page003.doc, ... Page497.doc). You want to make it easy for the slush reader to keep going, not make him wonder if opening the next file is Too Darned Much Trouble.
    Yes, people do this. If it was only once I'd say it was a fluke, but I've seen it twice, so....

    I expect it's folks who took the advice to use their word processor like a typewriter a little too literally.

    Speaking of which, you don't need to hit the carriage return at the end of every line, either.

  2. #1827
    Esteemed thinker Calliopenjo's Avatar
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  3. #1828
    Comic guy Bartholomew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Yes, people do this. If it was only once I'd say it was a fluke, but I've seen it twice, so....

    I expect it's folks who took the advice to use their word processor like a typewriter a little too literally.

    Speaking of which, you don't need to hit the carriage return at the end of every line, either.
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  4. #1829
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    And while you're at it, don't use section headers. Just have one header format -- author, title, page number -- for the whole document. If I want to reformat the document to make it easier to print out and read, I don't want to have to fiddle with all those different section heads.

    Your mileage may vary.
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  5. #1830
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    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    And while you're at it, don't use section headers. Just have one header format -- author, title, page number -- for the whole document. If I want to reformat the document to make it easier to print out and read, I don't want to have to fiddle with all those different section heads.

    Your mileage may vary.
    I've almost always used "Different Header First Page" or "No Header First Page," whatever my word processor at the time offers, so that the author/title/pagenumber slug begins on page 2. It always seemed redundant to have that in addition to the other Page 1 content: author info in the upper left and the word count in the upper right (accomplished by means of a two-column table), title a third of the way down the page.

    That two-column table, by the by, has only just now begun causing me trouble now that I've switched from MS Word to Open Office for creating my RTFs and submitting the majority of my manuscripts electronically. Seems that Open Office isn't very good at preserving formatting in an RTF, especially if one starts off with WordPerfect 5.1 because you can have my WP51 when you pry it from my cold dead motherboard. Thankfully, the editor who alerted me to the resulting wonkiness did buy the story, but told me it wasn't a good idea to use table formatting in a manuscript anyway.

    How does one get a word processor document's first page looking like this Page 1 Manuscript Format top-of-page info without tables? I guess maybe just hit TAB a bunch of times after my name on the first line, to approximate a right-justified word count?

    It hasn't exactly kept me up nights (especially since I dug out the old copy of MS Word specifically and exclusively for this use; its RTFs preserve the formatting and the page-2-and-onwards header quite nicely), but it's something I do wonder.
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  6. #1831
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin DaveK's Avatar
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    I've found that Libre Office is better than Open Office for RTF support. What really confuses me are the sites that take electronic submission but want them in standard format. But that rant is for another forum.

  7. #1832
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    Thanks for the recommendation -- I'll check out Libre Office as soon as I get my own computer back from repair. (How's it's WP51 conversion?)

    I expect many editors print out electronic submissions, so all the reasons that make standard format useful in hard copy will still apply. There's also value for slush readers in having the slush pile adhere to a consistent format/font/appearance, even if they'll be read on the screen.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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  8. #1833
    Naked Futon Guy allenparker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf View Post

    I expect many editors print out electronic submissions, so all the reasons that make standard format useful in hard copy will still apply. There's also value for slush readers in having the slush pile adhere to a consistent format/font/appearance, even if they'll be read on the screen.
    I may be wrong, but I expect that the editors read a few lines or a page and decide whether to print off a couple of chapters or not. It would save money and trees to just print the ones that sound interesting. Others may move them to an ereader. That's what I would do.
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  9. #1834
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    As always, follow the guidelines of the market you're submitting to. Even if the guidelines don't make sense to you, they (for whatever reason) make the publisher's workflow easier, and you want the publisher to have an easy workflow, right?

  10. #1835
    Lurking in darkness darkelf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf View Post
    How does one get a word processor document's first page looking like this Page 1 Manuscript Format top-of-page info without tables? I guess maybe just hit TAB a bunch of times after my name on the first line, to approximate a right-justified word count?
    You set a right aligned tab stop.

    In the top left corner of your ruler in either Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer (I don't know what it would be in WP) there is a symbol that looks like an L . This sets a left aligned tab stop. If you click on the L it changes to a backwards L. That's a right aligned tab stop. With the tab set to right aligned, click on the ruler at the far right were you want your text to be right aligned. Then after you type the text you want on the left, hit tab once and you should be at the right margin (or where ever you put that tab stop) and anything you type will now be right aligned.

    Remember to remove the tab stop after the line you want it on. Other types of tab stops include centered (upside down T) and decimal centered (upside down T with a dot) that will center align numbers on the decimal point.

  11. #1836
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Everyone gets bad reviews from time to time....

    The various tabs in WordPerfect:

    From the Format menu, choose Line, then Tab Set. You'll get a menu of Right, Left, Center, or Decimal. Choose the one you like.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 01-26-2012 at 06:35 AM.

  12. #1837
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Those "reviews" are the most unintentionally funny--and most illiterate--reviews I've read.

    Beowulf is "too 'Hemmingway'''. OMG! I howled over that one.




    Okay, back to read some more. That's sure-fire cure for dry-eye syndrome.

  13. #1838
    Goddess of Rationalization Hathor's Avatar
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    But panning GOOD NIGHT MOON? Is nothing sacred?

  14. #1839
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hathor View Post
    Is nothing sacred?
    Makes me think of a bunch of people bowing down before a large statue of the number Zero. A couple of onlookers: One saying to the other, "Is nothing sacred?"

  15. #1840
    practical experience, FTW Blue Sky's Avatar
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    Lean Mean Thirteen was a breezy read. I laughed aloud a few times. She got me.

    Fun for me was finding A Working of Stars on my way out of the used bookstore. Thought for sure I'd have to order that one online.

  16. #1841
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    In today's episode of Stranger Than Fiction....

  17. #1842
    A WIP Ton Lew Lepsnaci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Makes me think of a bunch of people bowing down before a large statue of the number Zero. A couple of onlookers: One saying to the other, "Is nothing sacred?"
    So the other comes back, "Dunno, I always thought you were the one and only."

    To which one replies: "Upstart, eating its own tail."

    At which point the other unwinds a double loop and stretches from infinity to one, then connects to zero. "In the end it all matters or nothing matters."
    Last edited by Ton Lew Lepsnaci; 01-28-2012 at 12:54 AM.
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  18. #1843
    Grand adventurer of the couch Grunkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grunkins View Post
    I can type 80ish words per minute, but I can't write 80 words per minute. In today's two hour BIC time I pumped out about 750 words and was pleased with it.
    Quick update, I am comfortably writing 1000 words per hour of new prose.
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  19. #1844
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf View Post
    I've almost always used "Different Header First Page" or "No Header First Page," whatever my word processor at the time offers, so that the author/title/pagenumber slug begins on page 2.
    A different format on the first page is manageable. What makes me crazy is when there's a different header for every chapter, especially when they're short chapters.
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  20. #1845
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    You want it, you got it!

    The novel will be Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich (selected at random). I haven't read it myself; I'll be reading it along with you. It's available in hardcover (should be in many libraries), paperback, and e-text.

    We'll discuss the last chapter one month from today: 08 February 2012.
    Still time to go get this book and read it. It's short....

  21. #1846
    Reinventing Myself Scribhneoir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Still time to go get this book and read it. It's short....
    Coincidentally, I worked my way through all the Stephanie Plum books throughout November and December. I'm ready!

  22. #1847
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    SPOILERS

    Okay, let's talk about the last chapter of Lean Mean Thirteen. This is an entry in a long-running series involving a female bounty hunter in Trenton, New Jersey.

    Chapter Eighteen is the last. It begins:

    [INDENT]Grandma Mazur had Blackie under her arm when she opened the door.

    "What are you doing with Blackie?" I asked her.

    "I've been trying to find just the right place to set him out. I want him to look natural."

    At the risk of being unkind, Blackie would need to be in Frankenstein's lab to look natural.
    [INDENT]

    What's going on here is winding up two of the plot arcs. The genre here is comedy/drama with a romance element. First person, past tense narrator.

    The plot arcs are the comedy taxidermist (one of the persons that our narrator wanted to catch for skipping bail), and the nymphomaniac grandmother. These are minor arcs. The grandmother is a continuing character, but the taxidermist, I believe, first appeared in this book and will vanish from subsequent books.


    "I have Morelli's laundry. I thought i'd throw it in the washer, and then I have to get back to Morelli," I told Grandma.

    "Blackie and me will take care of it for you. We haven't got anything better to do."

    I left the laundry with Grandma and ran back to Morelli's SUV. I thought maybe Lula was right and I didn't do much for Morelli. It wouldn't kill me to pitch in and clean his house today. It was only a matter of time before my life would be back to normal, although I was beginning to think weird might be normal for me. The police would get the car and the clock and the money. They'd find Petiak and lock him up. And I wasn't sure what would happen to Dickie.

    Morelli's house was less than a quarter of a mile from my parents' house. I drove two blocks and was T-boned by a Hummer coming out of an alley that ran behind a row of houses. The impact rammed me into a parked car and left me breathless. Before I had a chance to collect myself, my door was wrenched open, and I was yanked from behind the wheel. It was Dave with a broken nose, bandaged fingers, and a brace on his knee.

    "Haw," Dave said, jamming the barrel of a gun into my ribs "We figured you'd come to see your mom. We've been waiting for you."

    That takes us to the first scene break.

    We're winding down the romantic sub-plot (narrator/Morelli). We're winding down the mystery plot: car/clock/money. We're winding down the major villain plot: Petiak. We're winding down the minor continuing comedy-villain: Dickie.

    The scene ends with sudden violence, and the unexpected appearance of the bumbling comedy-henchman: Dave. (Unexpected because, with all the injuries he's sustained, he should be in a hospital somewhere.) The subplots, which appeared to be winding down, are now all back in play.

    This also takes us through the second page of the last chapter. The chapter has fifteen pages in the edition I'm using; 14%. We've just been told that none of the subplots are actually winding down. Instead, they're going to be brought back into play with some kind of twist: "weird."

  23. #1848
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    The next scene is likewise about two pages long.

    Our first-person narrator is taken by bumbling-and-beaten Dave to see the until-now unseen Chief Villain, Petiak.

    Petiak had been discussed quite a bit, but now we're finally meeting him. The location of this meeting as also been described, but now we're seeing it for the first time. Petiak displays his favorite murder weapon: a flamethrower. Again, we've heard quite a bit about it, but this is the first time it appears for our narrator to see and describe it.

    The villain threatens to kill the heroine, if she doesn't give him the key which will allow him to get $40 million. She doesn't have it, but knows where it is.

    After the mild comedy of the first scene, this scene is quite a bit darker. The tension is racked up a lot.

  24. #1849
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Anyone want to chime in, before I get to the third section?

  25. #1850
    practical experience, FTW Blue Sky's Avatar
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    I'm loving this Jim. This is how I wanted to see it last time.

    Lot's going on with me right now--including write now--but just the same, I couldn't think of what to write on the second section. There is so much going on in relation with the rest of the book. Well, I suppose everything in a well-written final chapter.

    Hopefully tomorrow more time for participation. Thanks for doing this.

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