1. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    Noob's question...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Milamber, Oct 24, 2007.

    Hey i know this sounds like a noob's question but i never realy "learnt" to write, i just read alot and picked up from books so i dont no the actual names or uses of half of anything. so what is the little wierd first line of a paragraph for. like:

    _He did this and that and went down to coast to visit his aunt etc and then went back home etc bla bla bla
    _And a new paragraph bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla.

    Why are they even put in? and why arnt they there at the begining of a chapter or after one of these thingos?:

    ***​

    He did this and that and went down to coast to visit his aunt etc and then went back home etc bla bla bla
    _And a new paragraph bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla.
    _i mean what is it all about?

    PS the underscores arnt suposed to be there... i just cant put consecutive spacemarks
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'm a little confused... Are you asking why the first lines of paragraphs are indented? If so, then it's just to seperate them from the previous paragraphs. And they aren't used for the first paragraph in a new section, because there is nothing seperate it from.
     
  3. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    Moved this thread as I didn't feel suggestions was the appropriate area for it to be in.
     
  4. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    Indented? that's what it's called... oh...
    all seems clear now i use my head...
    Ty banzai
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's actually more a matter of typography (printing layout) rather than actual writing. Paragraphs with an ninitial indent stand out better than paragrpaphs without the indent. There's also a "hanging indent", in which the first line extends further to the left than the subsequent lines, but that's not usually used in fiction, because it leaves a lot of unused page space on the left side of the page.

    The initial paragraph of a chapter may or may not be indented, which is a publication decision. An older tradition was to use an ornate block graphic of the initial letter of the paragraph, occupying the left side of the first few lines (I don't recall at the moment what that is called).

    From a writing point of view, you don't need to worry much about it, unless the publisher you are submitting to requests a particular layout standard (which they likely will). But if you are using a word processing program for your writing, which I would highly recommend, you can make those adjustments to an entire manuscript in seconds.
     
  6. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    yeh the powers of word document :) I realy feel sorry for those fellows who were writing on paper in the 18th century... or typewriters...

    I was actualy doing the indent thing for the exact reason banzai was talking about.
    just to clear up the paragraphs when i'm writing.
     
  7. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    All praise to word processing! I get in a right mess when I try and work on paper... I constantly write a paragraph then come up with changes and stuff to add in.
     
  8. dwspig2
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    dwspig2 Member

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    Cogito, I believe you're talking about what Word calls a "drop cap."

    Are Drop Caps still acceptable in modern printing? Would a publisher use drop caps if a writer wanted them?
     
  9. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    Is that a rhetorical question?
    in case it isnt then i'd say that they still feature in some books. i think there was one at the start of every chapter in the "His Dark Materials Trilogy" and i'm sure i've seen some elsewhere.
    personaly i find them cool... so i might put them in if i realy fancied it. if the publisher got as far as liking my book then i dont think they'd care much about enlarged capitals at the start of every chapter.

    Wait a second? is a dropcap a big old letter at the start of a chapter? or one of those indented things?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, drop cap is the term. It's a printer's term, Word didn't invent it. It's mostly out of fashion, but you still see it occasionally. I've seen it used in magazines, although not as intricate as in old books, and I think it sometimes still shows up in novels.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A drop cap is an oversized letter, with or without ornate graphics, that takes up a rectangular block at the beginning of multiple lines. It takes the place of the first letter in the first word of the first paragraph in the chapter, and although it occupies several lines, it only belongs to the first line.

    It never extends into the space occupied by the second paragraph, which results in an awkward looking layout if the first paragraph is too short.
     
  12. Weaselword
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    Weaselword Banned

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    ....
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bottom line is that when writing your ms, you should indent all paragraphs, even the first one... whether or not a book will have those indented has nada to do with standard ms format rules 'n regs...

    remember, you're not typing your 'book'... just the ms for one... indenting or not indenting the first paragraphs in the printed book, will be up to the publisher [if you're good/lucky enough to get one]...
     
  14. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    ms?... is that a draft?
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    ms = manuscript, i.e what you submit to the publisher.
     
  16. Milamber
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    Milamber Member

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    ooooo... ok i get it.
    i like writing my stuff like a proper book, like so it looks like it's ready to print. i find it's easier to look back and read thru.
     
  17. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    If you really want it to look like a proper book, then you should check out LaTeX used in conjunction with a text editor, rather than a word processor. LaTeX creates very professional results with very little tweaking. When writing the actual text is the most important thing, something that heavy reliance on word processors conceals, especially when spending time setting fonts, sizes, margins, &c., especially when the format created is not the format wanted by publishers. Why spend time on bells and whistles at the cost of the text?

    P.S. LaTeX is basically a markup language that works much the same way as HTML, wikilanguages, or even the simple markups you see above when answering a post.

    e.g.: To print the word italics in italics in the forum markup language would be gotten by inserting this:

    [ I ] italics [ / I ] deleting the spaces of course; while for LaTeX to get the same results you would enter, for example,: \emph{italics}

    This is basically the reason that many writers do use text editors; for example, Arthur C. Clarke still uses wordstar. This has caused a few contemporary authors, especially sci-fi, to also use wordstar; however, there are many other text editors out there. Once learned emacs has become indispensable to me, and without a mouse I can move around in a document, edit text, and even perform major operations much quicker that with any word processor, something that cannot be done in wordstar.
     
  18. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've used LaTex before, it does make stories look infinitely better. It also allows you to do things like math and scientific problems with text that looks like it should.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i
    if you're just writing for fun, that's fine... but if you hope to have your work published, you'll have to convert it all to the proper format, before submitting, so you might as well save time and trouble and learn to write in proper format from the get-go, like most writers do...

    go here for good ms format guides:

    http://www.shunn.net/format/
     
  20. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    That site should go in the resource links! which everyone seems to have forgotten in my absence.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not forgotten, adamant. Just awauting links to be nominated.

    I've added this one - thanks, mamma!
     
  22. iverch
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    iverch New Member

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    Accidentally posted, not sure how to delete this.
     

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