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Thread: spacing

  1. #1


    This has been bothering me quite a bit. I come across this question every now and then in my book:

    What is the proper way to show a lapse in time? Shouldn't something within a long time frame be done by skipping 3 spaces and using a line of astericks above it? What about for just a day or two lapse?

    How about when you're going about a change in topic? I know this must sound silly, but sometimes it feels strange not having a space between the previous paragraph and the next. Do some writers use a space in such instances?

    Or perhaps I'm just thinking too much about all this. I've been "obsessing" over this story for a year now and am actually beginning to get sick of it. It's my first book and I'm in the process of polishing it all for the millionth time. :-) It's amazing I'm even writing a book. I was never a big reader in school.

    One more question: How many spaces do you use in the first line of a new chapter? I've noticed some books not indent while others indent around 17 spaces for the first line. What is the common practice today? I read mostly the old junior fiction classics such as Lucy Maud Montgomery (and Louisa May Alcott) since their style is a lot like mine and I am trying to reach the teenagers up to adult crowd. I was just wondering if the practice has changed.

    Thank you if you've read this far and can help me. I'm new to all of this and wish I could concentrate on writing only and not working first; I'm substitute "teaching" junior high at the moment. If I don't reply back, it's because I might be too busy. My aunt had surgery today and I may have to leave town and help my mother take care of her every now and then. So, thank you very much in advance! It is appreciated.

    That's all the questions I can think of for now. Aren't ya happy? :-)

  2. #2
    Valerie Moreau

    Re: spacing

    The indenting for the first line should be normal by you, anything else will be the publishers formating, I should think. I can't say for sure. As for time lapses, wouldn't starting a new chapter be better if several days have gone by with no action? Again these are just my opinions.

  3. #3

    Re: spacing

    The old televised Notre Dame football line just before the leap:

    We now move to action later in the game.

  4. #4
    Victor Miller, Sr

    Re: spacing

    I suggest you get a copy of The Writers Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats ISBN #0-89879-293-2. It covers just about everything from queries to cover letters to book manuscripts. It was a big help to me.

    Indents are whatever the default is in your word program. The publisher sets whatever he wants in print.

    For time or place changes;
    * * * *
    This is all I use between paragraphs. It gets the idea across. If there is a massive time and place shift then I will says so in the first line of the paragraph with...


    Don't indent this line and continue typing or skip to the next line and indent. Skipping a lot of lines uses up a lot of paper when you print out long novels. Every 27 lines saved is another page of paper. Think about it.

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