Writing Advice
- Introduction
- A room of one's own?
- Where do you get your ideas?
- Where do I begin?
- What books do I need?
- How important is research?
- Should I join a writers' circle?
- Literary terms
- Typing it up
- Sending it off
- Penbenders
- Creating characters
- Constructing the story
- Short Fiction

Typing it up

Your novel has to be delivered in a state acceptable to the publisher, and that means typewritten. And while it doesn’t matter whether you use your trusty old Remington manual or produce a laser-printed treat for the eye, the fact is that it will be taking its chances with a great many other novels, all desperate to be read. Yours will stand a better chance if it looks professional.

  • Use white A4 paper, or its equivalent, if you are not in the UK.
  • Leave margins of about an inch and a half either side.
  • Double-space the lines.
  • Number the pages.
  • Don’t justify the text (the right margin should remain ragged).
  • If you are using a word-processor, select a clear type-face, and use a point size of between 10 - 12. Don’t use a fancy script.
  • If you are using a typewriter, use a black ribbon. If you have a black and red ribbon, don’t use the red at all.
  • Indent paragraphs.
  • If you want to stress a word, underline it. Just once.
  • Dialogue is contained within single quotes. Any quote within the dialogue is contained in double quotes to distinguish it from the rest. (In the USA, the convention is the other way round.)
  • Start a new paragraph with each new speaker.
  • If you are using a typewriter, the hyphen can be used as a dash, by leaving a space before and after it. Dashes are used to indicate a pause within a sentence and to indicate an abrupt breaking-off of a sentence, in both dialogue and narrative.
  • If a sentence merely remains unfinished, use three dots (known as ellipsis), like this. . .
  • Do a title page which contains the title of the novel, and the name under which you write. It should also have your name, address, phone number, etc. But nothing else.

That’s about all you need to know to produce a professional manuscript. None of it is vital to acceptance, but it will improve its chances of being read, which is vital to acceptance.

Send it off, be patient, and do what professional writers do. Keep your fingers crossed!


Jill McGown
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