1. struggler
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    struggler Member

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    a question about paragraphs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by struggler, Dec 25, 2012.

    Hi everyone. I've got a question regarding paragraphs. In my novel so far there are plenty of times when a paragraph ends at the very end of the line (or near about) and I'm not sure how to start the next paragraph. Because if I just do one space (hit enter once) than the two paragraphs will just look like one. I've been doing two spaces (hit enter twice, so there is one line that has no words in it between the two paragraphs) but I don't think I've ever seen this done in real novels before. In novels the paragraphs always seem to end at the beginning or near the middle of a line. So, what should I be doing? Thanks.
     
  2. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Doesn't matter if the two look like one because the line is long. The appearance is going to change depending on window size, page size, font size, etc. Two spaces (with a blank line) is commonly understood to be a linebreak, which is commonly understood to represent a change of scene or jump in time. If neither of those, then best to stick with one line.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe that the standard for submitting manuscripts is to indent each paragraph, and not have blank lines between paragraphs--but do some research before you take my word for it.

    On the other hand, most word processors make it fairly easy to search-and-replace, so as long as you handle every paragraph the same way, you should be able to change your choice whenever you want. I'm not writing to submit anything yet, so I use what I think of as "internet style"--no indenting, blank line between paragraphs.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First off, look at potential publishers. Many post manuscript guidelines. In general, the most commonly preferred format is a 12 point fixed-width serif font (Courier New is widely recommended), Letter sized paper (8.5" x 11"), 1" margins on all sides. Courier is often considered much more readable than Times New Roman. The text should be left-aligned (ragged right), and numbering begins after the title page.

    Short pieces generally do not require a cover page. Instead, the title and auther (pen name) appear at the top of page 1. As always, check your publisher's submission guidelines to see whether a title page is requested.

    Paragraph format should be double spaced, with no leading or trailing vertical spacing, and with a 0.5" first line indent.

    Each page except the title page should have a header that contains the author's last name (pen name), condensed title (some publishers suggest all caps), and page number. When submitting a hard copy manuscript, it should be printed single-sided unless the publisher specifies otherwise.

    Before submitting, check that publisher's guidelines and make appropriate adjustments. The above settings will meet many publishers' guidelines and will require minimal changes for most others.

    Use paragraph properties in your word processor instead of manually indenting each paragraph.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog's listed rules are the standard for mss to be submitted to agents and print venues...

    sticking to paragraphs, per the op's question:

    if you're asking about mss to be submitted toagents or print publishers, all paragraphs [including first ones in every chapter] must be indented .5" and there should be no extra space between paragraphs, unless a line break is called for, due to time, place, or character switch... in which case a single # is to be placed in the center of the otherwise blank line... no lines should be left blank other than those between chapters...

    if submitting for online publication, then there should be no indents and line breaks are used instead, but without the #... in this case, an extra line would be left blank when line breaks are called for...

    in all instances, you should first check the agent's/publisher's submission guidelines and do what they require, regardless of what is the accepted norm...

    hope this solves your dilemma, struggler...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  6. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Pretty sure the OP was concerned more with aesthetics than guidelines.
     
  7. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    There's something called 'Line Spacing' In the word processor. Tick the option that says 'Add space before paragraph' I use that and two paragraphs won't look like one even if they end and begin at the same position in their lines. The 'Line Spacing' should look like two arrows one going up, the other down. Hope that helps.
     
  8. TheDoctor97
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    TheDoctor97 Member

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    Are you indenting your paragraphs? It's hard to say without being able to see what you're doing, but if you're not hitting tab (or setting up your program to automatically indent for you) before each paragraph, then they would blend together, causing them to look like one large block of text. It doesn't matter where the last line ends either; if it bothers you, I suppose you could add or subtract words. But only if it adds to the book. Not just to make it look good.

    Also, you generally don't put empty spaces between the paragraphs of books actually in print. The indent is enough to separate between them.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Aesthetics are for typesetters, not writers. If you are se;f-publishing, which I do not recommend, you have to know all aspects of the publishing industry, including the various ways of blocking out paragraphs; it's not something you will learn from a few Q and A posts on this forum.

    If you are a writer, you submit your writing in the above-described manuscript format, or a variant of it preferred by the publisher you are submitting to. Let them worry about aesthetics - it's their job.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this should never be done for a ms you are submitting to agents or print publishers... there should be no extra space before or after paragraphs, for print submissions, so you need to click on the 'remove space before/after paragraph' buttons and only do what i explained above re indents and line breaks...
     
  11. struggler
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    struggler Member

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    Sorry for bringing up an old thread, but I've got another question regarding indenting. When people say to indent every new paragraph does that also mean dialogue too? So the start of every new line of dialogue is indented? Thanks.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Check almost any novel published in America - the dialogue paragraphs are indented.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    basically, yes... but there may be times when you will want to include both narrative and dialog in the same paragraph, when it's about/by the same character...
     

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