1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Paragraph after a chapter break

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Elgaisma, Aug 31, 2010.

    Does the paragraph after a chapter break start with an indent or is it up against the left margin like at the start of a chapter?
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been advised both ways--I'd love to know the definitive answer!
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL so guess it's which ever looks best on the page?
     
  4. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    From the books I've just looked into, the first paragraph of the chapter was pushed against the left margin, while the rest of the paragraphs were indented. However, there were a couple where even the first paragraph of a chapter was indented. I looked into 10 books. Two of these had the indent at the start of the chapter, and the rest didn't. However, I'm not sure if you need to do this yourself, or if the publisher will worry about format when they print the book. Perhaps someone else will be able to tell you.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    At the start of the chapter I haven't been indenting them.
     
  6. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    I always indent the start of a paragraph.
     
  7. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    In a word document, I would indent the first paragraph of the chapter. Not doing so feels like it's wrong to me. It may not look that way in the actual print of a book, but then again, your word document isn't a page in a book...

    Still, I'm not sure it matters overly much. I don't know many editors that will look at the manuscript and turn it down because the first paragraph in a chapter wasn't (or was) indented.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In manuscript, every paragraph should start with a half inch (or one cm) indent. The entire manuscript should be double-spaced, with no additional blank lines between paragraphs.

    Also, you should have one inch (or two centimeters) margin all around the page, and hard copy should be printed on only one side.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, Cog. That was what I thought, and always do now, but a tutor on a short-lived writing course wanted the first line of the manuscript (for articles) with no indent.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    For the UK market the margins are 3-4 cms. Also increasing number of agents prefer email submission. I know my top five choices do, so I am following the instructions on their websites concerning presentation of documents.
     
  11. SandraLSC
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    SandraLSC Member

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    Oh wow. I didn't know that there should be no blank lines between paragraphs. I have been writing my manuscript like it would appear in a book, I suppose. Although, right now, having those blank lines helps me when I do a read through (I only place a blank line when there is a scene change inside a chapter). I guess I can always take them out at the end.

    Is there a certain way you are supposed to show a chapter change in a manuscript?

    I have always indented every paragraph, though. Like, someone else said, to not indent a paragraph would seem wrong.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you see in a book is not what agents and publishers want to see in a submitted ms!

    as cog said, it is standard ms format to indent every single paragraph... do not show yourself to be a clueless amateur by sending in mss with first paragraphs not indented...
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You begin a new chapter with a page break and a chapter heading. The chapter heading can either be a title or a number, but numbers are more typical for modern adult fiction.

    Chapter numbers are typically in Arabic numerals, i.e. 1, 2, 3, ..., rather than Roman numerals.
     
  14. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    It is critical that you format your MS correctly when you begin submitting; agents and publishers get so many unsolicited submissions that many won't even look at it if its not correct.
    Not only do you need to start each chapter on a new page, but you need to begin halfway down the page as well.
    An editor will be able to help make your MS industry standard.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i would never recommend paying anyone to format your ms... nor even to edit it... serious writers do that on their own... and must, if they hope to be successful... the money spent on hiring others to do your work for you will most likely be wasted anyway, since first efforts are rarely sold and even when they are, don't make enough money for the writer to even cover what it cost them to write it and sell it...
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    And that is the definitive rule!
     
  17. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    I completely disagree. I know a lot of writers who have never had an awesome editor and consider them to be a waste, especially given that once you do land a publisher they're going to assign you to one of their editors anyway, but you'll never get your foot in the door if your MS isn't perfect. I have an editor who I work well, who sees things differently than I do and can make suggestions that tighten up my writing. This doesn't mean that I scribble out a rough draft and hand it over, but after I've poured over my work seven or eight or twenty times and polished it up as best I can, I give it to him and it goes through a different process, coming out cleaner on the other side. While having a professional look at your work can be costly, it shouldn't be unreasonable, and it is an investment in yourself. I believe in my work and my editor believes in my work and he is a great asset to me. I do understand not wanting to spend money on a long shot and the writer's common feeling that they must work alone, but I also believe that it doesn't hurt to have a team, and that sometimes your mom is not your best editor, and that sometimes you're too close to your own work to see the potential flaws.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your manuscript needs to be clean, but that is the writer's job. The cost of an editor is prohibitive, especially given that a rejection is still far more likely than an acceptance.

    Furthermore, finding an editor that fixes the actual problems without mucking with your style is harder that it sounds.

    A published author I know with a long term multi-book contract uses an editor as an adjunct for meeting deadlines. It frees her up to focus on writing the next book, but only because:

    1. Her manuscript passed along to the editor is already nearly flawless, so the changes are generally the stray typo and some suggestions for touching up the flow or to clarify meaning.

    2. She already has a well-established style, and her editor knows and respects her style.

    This is her second editor. She dropped her first editor because that editor didn't mesh well with her writing style, so she was spending too much valuable time separating the changes she agreed with with ones she did not care for.

    She took nearly two years after that selecting a new editor, taking the time to work with each prospective editor sufficiently to know the relationship would work.

    Only the fact of a long term contract with the publisher made the use of an editor economically feasible.
     
  19. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's to stop the editor who works with the publisher screwing it up for you anyway, after all that? :p
     
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  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Precisely I have been reading the articles in the Writers and Artists Yearbook written by the UK agents and general gist is they are not looking for a perfect manuscript they are looking for a good basic story, competently told and an author they can work with. They want something they can market, if they feel they can market it, they are going to get it edited anyway.

    Priorities are a good query, synopsis, and getting things like the word count right so it doesn't get automatically rejected.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my point exactly!... and even after paying an editor to fix what you should be able to fix yourself, you still have little to no chance of selling the ms... so it's money down the drain 90% [or more] of the time...

    how many stories/books are you trying to get published?... add up all the money you've spent on them so far for editor's fees and see how it compares to what you've earned on sales [have you made any?]... 'nuff said?
     

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