Formating a manuscript

When writing a manuscript, I must confess I concentrated a first on the story the characters and the setting. But as the deadline to send my dissertation for my Master was coming closer I realised there was something had grossly over looked:

The formatting.

I’m not talking about typos, because those have a way of creeping behind your back. And so I believe that you need to have someone else read your manuscript to try and erase as much as you can because when you read a text you know, your brain does a silly thing and corrects the letters as you read, so you basically cannot spot any typos in your own text.

What really got me stressed was the use of coma, speech marks and so on.

So here are some basic rules, that apply to my Master at MMU and I believe in most places.

  1. Intend paragraphs
  2. Do not add a space between the paragraphs.
  3. If there is a significant time gap between two paragraphs within the same chapter, use any form or sign to signal that, like a line of ***** or ——–, whatever you prefer.
  4. Intend speech.
  5. When the same person speaks, even if there is some description in between, do not start on a new line, continue on the same line.
  6. Start the speech with a Capital letter
  7. Finish speech with a coma if there is something following, like “Hello,” said Tom.
  8. After the second speech mark, do NOT start with a capital letter if it’s a continuity of the speech: “Be careful,” he whispers.
  9. If the Speech is broken up start each speech mark with a Capital letter every time, except when the sentence is broken in two. :” You, my friend,” he said, “You are amazing; But “You, my friend,” he said, “are amazing.”
  10. Leave a space above and below your chapter title, be it a sentence or just the chapter number.
  11. Don’t forget to number you pages. (Silly, but that was something I’d forgotten at first.)
  12. Write THE END at the end of your novel, so the reader knows he reached the end. It might be obvious for you, but not to the reader.

So now that you’re as stressed as me, remember to find friends to look at your manuscript, because an outside eye is always helpful.