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Topic: Manuscript Format

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Subject: Manuscript Format
Date Posted: 8/28/2007 12:51 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 2
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Hello everyone. I am new to the writers forum and new to writing, and was looking for help on manuscript formatting.  I have read different things about it. Some questions I have:

margin size - I have read that there should be no more than 10 words per line. This would create a margin that is larger than the recommended 1".  Any info on the 10 word per line rule.

Dialogue - in a conversation does dialogue for each character start on a new line? 

Does anyone one know how perfect an manuscript has to be? My grammer is pretty good, but there are some weak spots. Also, what about chapter and paragraphs.  If I write something one way and an agent does not agree, does this rule out possible representation?

I guess my real question is how truely polished does the manuscript have to be?

Thanks all.


Date Posted: 8/28/2007 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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Take a look at the submission guidelines for where ever it is you want to send the ms They vary and usually will be on the websites.

Date Posted: 8/28/2007 6:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 145
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I'm not sure where you heard the "10 words/line" rule--I never have.  In general, you want 12 point font, Times New Roman, with standard margins left justified.

For dialogue, start a new, indented line for each new speaker.In my experience, it needs to be pretty polished and perfect before you send it out.  Agents are looking for great writing--if there are a few, minor errors but the writing is great, they'll probably be okay with it, but in today's publishing climate, agents aren't goign to act as proofreaders or editors.


There are some good books out there about how to format that you might find helpful.


Good luck!



Jean C. (jeanc) - ,
Date Posted: 9/18/2007 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 2/22/2006
Posts: 7
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Judy said, "In my experience, it needs to be pretty polished and perfect before you send it out."

I edit books for several online publishers. You would be amazed at how UNpolished the manuscripts I get are! - Jean

Date Posted: 9/20/2007 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2006
Posts: 4,892
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Ditto what Judy said.  I'm a professional author, and I think the best reference is the Writer's Digest.  It gives you all the basics.

As far as polished work--the competition is fierce.  Make it perfect.