1. Babippen
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    Babippen New Member

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    Need some help regarding formatting

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Babippen, Dec 2, 2015.

    Hello. First post on this site. I just want to get right into asking questions and discuss possibilities.
    So as someone that mostly writes comments online rather than writing fiction, I'm used to writing with several breaks in a fairly short paragraph before leaving an empty line break (I forgot what it's called) as such.

    I've looked in several pocket books for guidance surrounding when I ought to break and when I ought to use a blank line. I'm sure there are probably several conventions of doing it, most of which is absolutely not the way that comes naturally to me when writing.
    Here's a page-long example from the story I'm writing so you'll see the way I do it. I want to get my formatting right from the start, please help me!


    ----------------------
    Torrents of united light from the consorting suns gave grass its golden gleam. It spread the scent of last night’s rain throughout the dampness in the air. At noon, the blushing redness of the Leftern Sun conjoined with the glacial-blue of the Right-hand Sun, like garishly godly eyes, ever watching from the sky.
    Chains of coastal mountains were nearly covered in green, with patches of snow resting over its multiple peaks. One grand mountain stood taller than the rest and not far from the base of it measured a vast stretch of forest.
    Pooling water, emanating in streams, gave the heart of the great forest its pulse. Multitudes of life followed along its arteries where ever it dispersed, through moss, stone, and flora.
    Idyllic, though it may be, it is a most treacherous thing to forget the feral dangers lurking within the specks that lay unknown to the maps of men, where only putrid rays of decaying light might hope to reach.
    Slow, lukewarm winds struck a low pitch and were as exhales, passing through.

    From the breath of nature sprang a black horse, pressing through the thick foliage. The muscles rippled underneath its volcanic obsidian coat. Atop the large mare rode a leather-clad swordsman. The frown on the man’s brow made his eyes look all the more like arrowheads as he managed the terrain, narrowly avoiding the Douglas-firs. The intensity of the chase was enough to test the stamina of even a proud mount such as his. Bushes and trees were severely encumbering their speed and they were both cut in many places from the bull-whipping of branches.

    He rode east, out from the deep forest, where it would eventually clear up. From a sharp hiss excelling by his ear, a crossbow bolt threatened to break his concentration as it passed by, impaling itself on the trunk of a nearby tree, echoing a low wooden clap.
    The man cocked his head right for the fraction of a second, casting a swift gaze over his shoulder. Only one pursuer was close enough to pose serious danger. Others followed far behind. The grunts that the immediate stygian baldagriff made was louder than the ones his lunging serutox wilderbeast made from with under him. Both looked mad with rage and famished with bloodthirst.
    ----------------------

    As you can see that's quite a few breaks and empty lines. I'm thinking maybe I should remove the breaks within the paragraphs and replace the blank lines with those breaks. Is that what writers would generally do?


    Another side question I got, if you have the time, is that I'm trying to decide upon whether or not to use quotation or apostrophe for dialogue. I've seen both used in different books, but in Lord of the Rings, for instance, Tolkien writes dialogue like:
    'I do not wish to go to Moria,' said Legolas.

    I would prefer to use apostrophe like Tolkien. Does anyone know advantages and disadvantages to both quotation marks and apostrophe for dialogue?
    Would the only difference bet that they'd be reversed in dialogue where characters quote something?
    'He used to tell us, "The dead will walk the earth," and all sorts of spooky things.'
    "He used to tell us, 'The dead will walk the earth,' and all sorts of spooky things."
    'They said, "Don't run."'
    "They said, 'Don't run.'"
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    On forum posts, I hate walls of text so I have a line space between paragraphs. But in a book, the software you use will determine the format and I think most books have the first lines of a paragraph indented, no line spacing between paragraphs.

    Hi, welcome to the forum. :)
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most writers wouldn't distinguish between line breaks and paragraph breaks, so it's hard to say what they would do with text, like yours above, that does distinguish between them. I would say that there should just be paragraph breaks. If you could only have one type of "break", how would you organize your sample text?

    Once your paragraphs are chosen, then the way that you format them depends on what you're using the text for. Internet style is usually like this post I'm typing--no indentation for paragraphs, and a blank line between paragraphs. Regular book style would usually have indentation for paragraphs, and no blank line between paragraphs.
     
  4. Babippen
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    Babippen New Member

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    Thanks for the replies! So when would it be preferable to use a blank line? Change of scene? When jumping ahead in time? Other suggestions?
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Re. the dialogue indicators - distinguish between apostrophes and single quotation marks - it doesn't always show up as different, but in quite a few formats, it will, so you'll need to be careful you get the right ones.

    In general, NA writers start with double quotes, then use single quotes within them if needed. So, for example:

    Johnny frowned. "I don't like it when you say 'zebra zoo' all the time."

    In the UK, it's more often the other way around:

    Johnny frowned. 'I don't like it when you say "zebra zoo" all the time.'

    So consider which market you're likely to focus on, and match to that.

    In terms of the paragraph breaks? I actually kind of liked the way you set things up - you essentially developed a whole new format, with two different levels of breaks. For me, it worked. But different genres/markets are more/less open to that sort of innovation. If you're writing literary, I'd say it's worth a try. If you're writing genre romance, I don't think it'll fly. Try reading more books in the market you're hoping to publish in and see how things are handled there.
     
  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    When using MS Word, I set up the Normal style to handle paragraph formatting, double-spaced, 1/2" indent, no space between paragraph, 12 pitch Times-New Roman. 1" margins all around.

    When I need a space between paragraph I just hit enter. And you are right, that should be reserved for a change of scene, or POV, pretty much as you did transitioning from narrative description to the man on the Black Horse, but not thereafter, as nothing has changed.
     
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  7. Cappy and Pegody
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    Cappy and Pegody Member

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    As Lew said ms word can be made to aply what ever style ya want just by tapping the enter key. Since we are indy writers we also have a separate style set up for chapter titles which automatically sets them as linked navigation in a table of contents. This way our readers can click a table of contents chapter title and be taken there.
     
  8. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Likewise!
     
  9. Babippen
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    Babippen New Member

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    Thanks for all of your advice. So according to Lew I could leave a blank line between the first part that describes the scenery, and then when skipping to something completely different, action which has all of a sudden become close, personal and stressful, it's a big enough change that it's worth marking with a blank line. I think I'll do that.
    I think I'll go with single quotation marks, the way some Brits do. Even if I were to focus on an American release, I don't think it's a convention that'll be enough to put people off. If I variated between color, armour, American spelling and then all of a sudden British spelling, then I might run into a few snags.
    By the way, what does NA stand for? You said "NA writers"?

    I'm not using MS word to write at the moment. I discovered a program called Scrivener that gives you the same stuff that word does, but it's more fit for book-writing. Let's you create many documents in the one document, so you can have all your side notes readily available to you without having to tab out and browse a map for them. And don't worry about the format itself, you can export everything into word documents from Scrivener. It works for me and I'm pretty satisfied with it.

    I got plenty of more little things I wanna ask about. Should I keep it in this thread or make a new thread for those other things? I don't want to cause unwanted spam with tons of threads.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    NA = North American
     
  11. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    First try searching this forum for your answers, if nothing seems to fit your needs then create a new thread. Generally everything has been discussed at some point but you may want a fresher set of thoughts so a new thread maybe warranted even if you find some old thread that covers your question, members don't want to start replying to a thread that is months old or is already very lengthy.
     

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