Category Archives: Writing

Friday’s Editing Tips [Formatting]

While formatting will be changed for Kindle and the like, it is good practice to get into a submission-ready standardised way of formatting your work as you write. Then change fonts and spacing if required by whoever you are submitting it to but generally most follow the same basic guidelines.

Here are some tips from a handout I like to share:

A Few Simple Tips For Formatting

 

Always check the guidelines for submission with the publisher or agent. Likewise, always check the rules and the submission guidelines when submitting to a competition or anthology. They will have their own in-house styles and rules. However as a rule of thumb the most preferred formatting is:

  • Times New Roman (Ariel sometimes)
  • 12 point
  • Double Spaced (remove extra space between paragraphs)
  • Double speech marks – although some prefer single (some even say if they want straight or curly!)

(Just make sure you are consistent.)

  • Rugged right (justified leaves gaps in the text) and editors usually prefer this as it appears too uniform otherwise. This is using the ‘align left’ tab not the ‘justify’ tab.

 

Paragraphs

The default tabs in Word are usually fine (sometimes they might ask for certain indents but not usually), set for double spacing (sometimes 1.5) and click box – don’t add extra space between paragraphs for the whole document. Start the piece or a new section to the far left, then indent for new paragraphs. Look at books as this will give you the idea:

e.g.

And so it began.

It was the summer of 1974…

 

Use an indent for a new paragraph or speaker (also includes reaction by a speaker so the reader can easily follow the conversation).

If you change scene, extra line space – no indent.

For a large time gap or point of view change also consider using asterisks for a larger scene break.

 

… She never stayed to hear his reaction. She couldn’t watch the man she loved just walk away. Not today. Not ever.

***

Peter drank. Perhaps not always the best answer but today Peter drank to forget.

 

Here we changed point of view. The formatting tells the editor/reader the switch in point of view was intentional. Again look at the way books do it and be consistent in your text. You will find your own style.

 

Dialogue

Always indent when a new person speaks unless it’s after action:

Peter stood and looked along the line of bushes. “What the hell was that?” he said.

Avoid hanging saids like:

Peter stood and looked along the line of bushes. He said,

“What the hell was that?”

(Move it up onto the same line.)

Again look at books. If you’re given another character’s reaction to what a speaker says start like a new paragraph.

e.g.

“It looks nothing like an alien or a lion,” said Joe blushing.

Peter dug his hands into his pockets and shook his head at Joe.

 

Thoughts are sometimes also expressed like dialogue. This is completely unnecessary for a single viewpoint character narrator when it’s clear it’s all his thoughts (so you can also lose expressions like he thought.) But excursions in a third person narrative to direct first person thoughts or with an omniscient third person narrator it is preferable to use italics. These make it clear it’s thoughts and differentiate from dialogue.

e.g.

He heard it again. Only this time followed by a shrill sound, like a bird maybe. It put him in mind of a parrot screeching but longer notes, more persistent. Whatever it was it wasn’t going away – (all character thought)

It’s going to get me – (switch to first person direct thought).

Rather than:

He heard it again. Only this time followed by a shrill sound. “Maybe it’s a bird,” he thought. “Maybe like a parrot but more persistent.” He stood back. “Whatever it was,” he thought, “it wasn’t going away. It’s going to get me.”

 

If you get into the habit of using the correct formatting it makes it easier when you submit and it also tells the editor you do know about writing – it’s far more professional. It also shows them you know how to follow rules which is essential if they decide to publish you. It’s surprising how many writers don’t read. Read as much as can not only do you then pick up the right way to format but you also see what works best.

 

Also make sure you use things like hyphens (-) to connect words and en dashes (–) to separate clauses and em dashes (—) for interruptions

Also for ellipses do not use three or more full stops control-alt-period (…) not (…).

 

Make sure you follow the guidelines, so if it says no identifying marks, remove your name from headers and footers. If it asks for page numbers at the bottom, insert them in the footer. If it asks for Ariel font, no indents (The Costa Prize does this!) and saved as a PDF, then do exactly as it asks.

 

Make sure you follow the rules of competitions: themes, word counts, previous submissions etc.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Ready to write

Leave a comment

Filed under Acceptance, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Copy Editing Quick Notes, Critique, Dialogue, Editing, Fiction Clinic, Live your writing dream, Living the dream, Proofing, Publishing, Reach your potential, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing

Make this the year

We all know how hard it is to have work accepted; I submit less than I used to, but there was a time when I thought nothing would ever be ‘good enough’ but what I learned was to never give up… no matter what.

Over the seven years that I have been working for myself I have met so many writers at different stages of their career — and, without doubt, the ones who made it did so because they refused to give up, they took advice and they worked even harder when they were rejected.

I offer in-depth critique on short stories and novels (from flash to novel and anything in between) … this is the mainstay of my work and the thing I probably love the best. However, since editing is a multi-layered process I also offer copy editing/line editing sand final proofing. I also work on proofing, copy editing and structural editing of non-fiction and have worked on a number of self-help and mental health books and memoirs.

It never ceases to amaze me that since I left the security of the day job in science (a lot of scientific writing) to what could only be described as an ‘uncertain future’ I have never been without work (phew). I did also get taken on by Cornerstones a couple of years ago and this past year I have edited more for them too and, in particular, have really stepped up the mentoring. And that is what I wanted to talk about.

If there are any of you out there who are keen to get more ‘hands-on’ ‘on-the-job’ training then why not consider a mentoring programme with me. It would be tailored to your needs, so let’s say you are working on a novel and plan to write two chapters a month, then I could work on these first drafts and perhaps as we go on two revised chapters so it’s a chapter a week. This might be 2-3 hours per week, so based on 12-15 hours per month so let’s say discounted to £250 per month. This can involve phone calls, Skype, even the odd meet-up. If you think you might be interested I urge you to get in touch. I can make it fit with you and your needs so costs might vary. But it does require commitment and needs to based on at least 2-3 months ideally but again we can discuss this.

Please do get in touch if this appeals.

Have a look at my website! www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk

Make 2017 the year!

15781708_1222913947775918_4975334586411254274_n

 

Leave a comment

Filed under a book deal, Acceptance, Acknowledging who we are and why we write, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Believing, Dreaming, Editing, Find a Publisher, Living the dream, Mentor, Mentoring, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Uncategorized, Writing

Countdown 1

An extract from a story that was never published but got a distinction in my MA… it uses in places film script for the narrator’s own life and later film treatment so it’s experimental. This is just a taster…

 

film-16mm-metalcannister-1500-b1d98797db2d1550ab31a1adb16744d5

Director’s Cut

Arnold Pepper makes his way slowly across the lot, a black trilby perched on an angle, tapping out time with a hickory walking cane. At the corner he stops, feels for the edges of the sealed manila envelope in his breast pocket. It beats like a second pulse. He checks the time on a watch that stopped fifty years ago, runs his fingers along the inscription and thinks about endings.

“Nothing lasts forever, Arnie,” he hears. He teases a tissue from his pocket and catches the memory.

Connie holding his hand.

Connie looking into his eyes.

Connie walking away.

He drags his thoughts back to the fate of Christian Black. His greatest creation: the revered hero of Millennium Pictures.

One question buzzes on peoples’ lips, weaves through speculating minds and folds itself into the LA smog: will they do it? Will they kill Christian Black? And the answer to that is in Arnold Pepper’s pocket.

Arnold looks at the line of perfect trees planted in a world of rubber bricks and hollow facades. Everything that happened, happened right here. Moments captured in frames, the counter starts at 00:00:00:00. He sees it at the corner of everything.

The Arnold Pepper story: a cast of writers, producers, editors, key grips, even stars before they twinkled. His unwitting family. Now most are nameless faces. But not Jimmy Olson, the man with big dreams. Two rookies, two stories, two endings.

The light changes. Aerial shot. Arnold looks at the sun with its cerulean backdrop. Shapes float past like ghosts painting scars on white walls. Hard to capture.

He’s aware of people around him; sound bytes snapping off. A girl laughing, someone yelling, maybe even a dog barking. He tightens his grip on his cane remembering his appointment with destiny: the fate of Christian Black.

Christian Black lived the life he never did. A life told in storyboards. One common purpose: tell the story the audience wants to hear. Love, hope, passion, drama. All the gloss with none of the in between.

He wonders if he could, would he go back and rework his own life the same way, but there are some scripts no one wants to read.

“Hey Mr P, how ya doin’ Sir?”

It’s Jazz, the guy that fetches the mail, lips glossed into a Marilyn Monroe pout, as if he’s kissing air.

“The end of an era,” Jazz says. “So how does it feel?”

Arnold leans both hands on his cane and looks right at him. “You know I started in the mail room,” he says, “did I tell you that, Kid?” He squints, studying the features of Jazz’s face, wondering how he gets his bleached hair to stand up like quills.

“Maybe once or twice. The mail boy in like 1857 or somethin’ right?”

Arnold looks at the AIDS pin Jazz wears on his T-shirt. He wants to ask him if his friend is out of the hospital. He says nothing, deletes the scene in his head.

Jazz speaks. “I suppose you’re gonna remind me how you knew them all? Like Bernard G, THE director of all time.” He smiles in wide angle. “Apart from you, of course, Mr P.”

But Arnold’s distracted by group of young actors. They’re talking about his movie. About Christian Black. Every girl’s lover. Every guy’s best friend.

“They filmed two endings,” the girl says.

“Hey, you bored with the mail guy now?”

When he looks back Jazz is standing with his hands rested on his hips. “A lot of memories- huh?”

Too many memories, folded into rolls of film. Curled like sleeping cats.

Arnold remembers the wager he made with himself – he’d give it one day. The job was a favour for his uncle, who was doing a favour for his mother. Now the counter reads sixty years and twenty-six semi-decent movies. So much for wagers.

But everything has an ending.

When he looks back he sees that Jazz is still watching him” No anecdotes about the GREAT Bernard Golden today?” he says, “How you didn’t even know who he was?”

 

FLASHBACK TO: MAY 1951

EXT. FILM STUDIOS – MORNING

SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD GEEK MAIL BOY gets lost on his first day at Millennium Pictures.

BERNARD GOLDEN – handsome dark looks, grey suit, cigarette propped between his lips – watches the MAIL BOY CROSSING THE LOT

BERNARD G

Hey Kid. Come ‘ere

Don’t you know this is a restricted area?

ARNOLD PEPPER – THE MAIL BOY

(looking around nervously)

No Sir. I was just looking for Bernard Golden

BERNARD G

(smirking)

You mean that know it all, arrogant A-hole? You better watch him, Kiddo. He bites.

 

Arnold walks towards the office block, thinks about those that have gone before, but some endings can’t be scripted – like a car taking a bend too fast.

“There’s a hundred ways to tell a story, Kiddo,” Bernie G told him. “But what they’ll remember is how it ended.”

Inadvertently Arnold taps the envelope sat next to his heart.

“It’s what lives in their heads when the popcorn’s rotted.”

“Hey Arnie, you thinking about the good ol’ days?” Jazz’s voice. “You lived the American dream, man.”

The phrase jars, like film despooling.

“The thing about dreams,” Bernie G said, “is if you hold ‘em in your hands too long they burn.”

 

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

 

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Countdown

Late blog this morning as was busy early, but just popping in to say have a great weekend all! The countdown begins and next week I will be posting short extracts of some of my published short stories and maybe novel extracts too on here in my own countdown until Friday!

So watch this space folks!

Happy Friday!

dreams-1

 

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Looking ahead and making plans

I have said before that life is all the richer for plans and things to look forward to. Certainly Christmas, for me, brings that feeling although I appreciate it is not the same for everyone. For some, this can be a challenging and sad time of year. I am lucky that I am blessed with many lovely Christmases, although there is still a tinge of sadness as we lose people along the way. I remember one Christmas, a few weeks after Lee died when we still went through the motions of making a Christmas, I was with his family… but it wasn’t the same. Perhaps for them, it will never be the same, for all of us in many ways.

But I still manage to see this as a magical time when I think about people in my life and buy gifts. For me, it’s in the choosing the right thing I find my greatest happiness. We have just about finished the shopping now! Yay! Sunday I will be at a candlelight carol service where Dad sings and I have been asked to do a biblical reading.

I should finish my editing early next week and look forward to a few days just before Christmas of seeing friends and doing some of my own writing! I am also making plans for my work for 2017. I WILL have success and I WILL sell my house and it will be the very best year EVER so far!

So what are your plans?

2017

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Feeling Fine

Just a quick post this morning and apologies there was no post on Friday, the morning kind of ran away with itself somehow!

Had a fun weekend enjoying the Gym Christmas party… and tonight we have the writing groups’ Christmas meal! I think I need to go to the gym even more with all this food and wine! Well… soon be back to normal I am sure!

I will share some photos of my talented writing group tomorrow!

 

writing-quote

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Love it

I am working hard and I am ahead of the crazy deadlines I have looming this side of Christmas! Yay! So yesterday I popped to a local town with the man in the afternoon for a spot of Christmas shopping! I hate it when the shops are too busy so mid-week works well and we plan to do the same next week and finish the shopping!

What is your favourite thing about Christmas? For me it’s the magic, the expectation and the choosing of just the right gift for someone!

Happy Thursday folks!

Think Positive

 

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing