1. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    Two carriage returns or one between paragraphs?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by scribbledhopes, Jul 2, 2012.

    Hoping for some advice,

    This sounds like a silly question but to me it’s puzzling. Not too long ago, I wrote in Times New Roman and at a 14 point font that was single spaced. I would return carriage twice after ever paragraph to give visual spaces and make sure the text wasn't all bunched up. Even if the small bit of dialog was just a small blurb it received the double carriage.

    Now I am teaching myself to write in Courier New at a 12 point font that is double spaced. Why? Because I thought it would be a good idea to write in a font and size a publisher is used to. At first I didn't like it because the font seemed too thin, but after a while it grew on me. It was easier to edit when printing and now I understand why editors prefer the thin font.

    My problem:

    I still have this old habit of wanting to return carriage twice at the end of paragraphs. Because of the double space, this looks really odd and makes me wonder if that habit is something I need to break. In the back of my mind, I keep thinking if the text is once again transformed to single spaced twelve point that it will be all bunch up.

    Aesthetics to my readers is important to me. I want it easy to read with a simple flow. Limiting long paragraphs and using spaces for tension and to assist in digesting the concept.

    On the other hand I don't want a considering publishers to say "What's with all the double spacing after every paragraph?" I feel like I am making a rookie move so I thought I would ask.


    Which is preferred? Better to ask now than go back and remove all the extra returns from the entire novel. I am in my second draft and I want to fix this as I go if necessary.

    Your time is always appreciated. Dave..
     
  2. Igor
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    Igor Member

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    I cannot give you a definitive answer. A publisher will alter the formatting anyway.

    For what it is worth, I use 11 point double-spaced Courier. I indent the first word of each paragraph by about 5 spaces. I use a single carriage return between paragraphs but I have set the paragraph formatting to give me space after the paragraph. It produces a clean, easy to read manuscript that looks good.

    I hope this helps.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    All submitted manuscripts should be submitted double-spaced throughout, with no additional space between paragraphs, unless otherwise specified. A new paragraph is indicated by a half-inch first line indent.

    If submission guidelines specify single spacing, and don't specify how to delimit paragraphs, I'd say leave a blank line between paragraphs.
     
  4. Estrade
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    Estrade Member

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    I think you should try to break yourself of the habit, if you can. It's best to stick to the default basic guidelines, which is no extra space between paragraphs. You can alter it later if you want or need to for any reason.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    extra space between indented paragraphs would be seen as the work of an amateur, to agents and editors/publishers, so you'd best get used to standard ms format, if you intend to submit your work for publication...

    when a line break is needed, for a time lapse or whatever, you must place a single # in the center of the line and need none blank other than those that occur when starting a new chapter on the next page...
     
  6. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    Thanks everone,

    Just to be clear so I understand, the text would look like this: (It would be double spaced of course and indented. For some reason it doesn't hold the indent when published on the forum.)

    I was traveling far that day. The sun was high and in my eyes,
    and I had to pull down the visor.
    "What are you doing?" my wife asked.
    "It's bright," I said, "don't you use your visor?"
    "Nope," she said, 'there is a spider that lives under there and I don't like to bother him.
    Franticly I looked for the little invader. He was no where to be scene so I found a quick
    place to pull over and do a thorough search. The only thing I could think of is that he
    had fallen to the floor. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realized he had fallen into
    my coffee.

    opposed to this:

    I was traveling far that day. The sun was high and in my eyes,
    and I had to pull down the visor.'

    "What are you doing?" my wife asked.

    "It's bright," I said, "don't you use your visor?"

    "Nope," she said, 'there is a spider that lives under there and I don't like to bother him.

    Franticly I looked for the little invader. He was no where to be scene so I found a quick
    place to pull over and do a thorough search. The only thing I could think of is that he
    had fallen to the floor. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realized he had fallen into
    my coffee.


    See that to me looks squishy. Maybe the RC after the end of the sentence doesn't count and then the second RC to give space is considered the one official one?

    Really trying not to be a bother. Thanks for considering the examples. Dave..
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you mean the first one looks squishy, that's because the indents aren't there and it's not double-spaced... look at any novel on your bookshelf and you'll see they're printed with indents and have line breaks only when the scene changes... in a ms those line breaks must have a # placed in the center of the line, as noted above...

    all that other stuff about 'rc's is confusing, can't tell what you mean...
     
  8. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    Yes, I can what you mean.

    I went back and checked a few of my novels and though I thought there was an extra Return Carrage (RC) I was wrong. (I think the term comes from my old mechanical typewriting days when I first learnt to type.) Thanks for the help. I have developed a bad habbit but something easy to fix. Thanks for clearing up the confusion. As I said it seemed silly so I was almost afraid to ask. I am glad I did. Dave..
     
  9. nephlm
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    nephlm Member

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    I'm going to throw this out there even though it might not be useful for you.

    Your tools may allow you to keep flexible in this. My word processor applies styles to paragraphs. The space between lines, indentation and space before and after the paragraph are all part of that style. I just type straight through with no extraneous carriage returns or tabs. I adjust the style to what pleases me most while writing, then change the style before sending it off (note I've never actually done this last step so take with a grain of salt.) I use OpenOffice, but I don't think it is unique in this functionality.
     
  10. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    What are the conventions on inserting extra returns in order to denote a change of scene or time inside a single chapter, i.e., very infrequently (perhaps one out of every twenty-five paragraphs)?

    Thanks for this specific advice.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't. For a scene break, either no gap at all, or a single line between paragraphs containing only a single, centered '#' character.
     
  12. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply.
     

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