How to Properly Format Your Manuscript

Getting ready to send your book to the publisher? Great, but DO THIS FIRST!

Whether you start formatting from the first word or when you’re done writing, the rules are the same.

When you format is up to you; How you format matters much more.

These standard formatting practices and common submission guidelines apply to fiction and non-fiction so follow them closely.

1. Font: Your font should generally be Times New Roman 12 point; that is the industry standard. There are some agents and editors who prefer different serif or sans serif fonts like Arial or Courier New, but your safest bet is Times New Roman 12 point.

2. Margins: Your pages should have a one-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right). These should be the default margins in MS Word and other word processors. If not, set them manually.

3. Indentations: The first line of a new paragraph, should be indented half an inch. For most word processors, you can do this by hitting the tab key once. Do not hit the space bar five times.

4. Line spacing: The entire manuscript should be double spaced. Set that early so you don’t forget. Double-spacing your lines makes the manuscript easier to read and mark up. Do not add an extra space between paragraphs.

5. Alignment: Use left align. Do not justify or y o u w i l l g e t t h i s, and that looks silly.

6. Page numbers: Page numbers are sequential and begin on the first new page after the title page. Pages in the front matter, such as the table of contents, copyright page, or ISBN info are numbered with Roman numerals.

7. Scene breaks: For scene breaks, add a blank line with a hash mark or three asterisks in the center to indicate a new scene.

8. Italics: In the past, writers used to underline words that they intended to italicize. Nowadays, writers simply use italics.

9. Sentence separation: Use one space between sentences after a period. Though many writers still hit the space bar twice to put two spaces between sentences, this is no longer accepted practice.

10. Ending: To indicate the end of your manuscript, write the word “END” and center it after the last line.

11. Page size: You should use the standard page size of 8.5 by 11 inches.

Whew! That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? However, it’s necessary and you’ll be so glad you did it!

I hope you enjoyed this post and tune in again soon for more great, useful stuff!

ChristineGuest blogger and editor


Great post. #readmore #writingcommunity #writing

Story Empire

Hi SEers! Denise here to discuss what happens when people talk to each other and how to apply that to writing.

Have you ever watched people talk? Do they sit and speak without moving or any expression? In my family, I’m surrounded by Italians. Hands are always flying around during conversations. I know who not to sit next to during a meal if knives are being used. It’s dangerous!

Besides hands, heads are moving, faces change expression, bodies are constantly in motion, and tone shifts can take the spoken level from high to low. The speaker’s mood comes out in not only their words but their body language.

Yet, when I first write a dialog for a story, I only put the conversation. I barely tag who’s talking. Later, when I’ve completed the story, I go back and add all the movement that accompanies the words.

Have you ever read…

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Assure, Ensure, and Insure

Some of you have no trouble with these, so you can skip this if you like.

For the rest, these are only confusing until you get the hang of them.

So here we go.

ASSURE means to tell someone that something will definitely happen or is definitely true.

Jane assured John that she loved him and would marry him soon.

Oxford English Dictionary definition:

1. Tell someone that something is definitely true.

2. Make something certain to happen.

ENSURE means to guarantee or make sure of something.

John took great pains to ensure that his writing contained no plagiarism.

Oxford English Dictionary definition:

1. Make certain that something will definitely be so.

2. (ensure against) make sure that a problem does not occur.

INSURE means to take out a policy against something.

Jane insured the rink against fire, flood, and vandalism. She wanted to ensure (see what I did there?) that they were covered for any untoward event.

Oxford English Dictionary definition:

1. Arrange compensation in the event of damage, loss, illness, or death, in exchange for regular payments to a company.

2. (insure someone against) protect someone against a possible event.

So did that help, or are these still clear as mud?

I have about a million of these, so stay tuned or contact me for editing wherein I will take away the headaches by doing it for you.  (I’ll also explain why.)

Christine – Guest blogger

Lay or Lie? Which one should you choose?

It depends on what you’re saying.

These two words are so often confused, I thought I’d put together a little something to help.

Lay vs Lie

To lay means to put or to place. One way to remember this is that there is an A in both to lay and to place: Sally will lay out her outfit before she goes to bed.

To lie means to recline. One way to remember this is that there is an E in both to lie and to recline: John is going to lie down for a nap.

In short; A is lay or place; E is lie or recline.

(Side note: The Australian and English vernacular of “have a lie down” or “a lie in” can come in handy if you’re writing about people from (or in) one of those places.)

Now that you’ve got that all figured out, here come the past tenses, which will confuse things all over again!

The past tense of to lay is laid: Sally laid out her outfit. The past tense of to lie is lay: John lay down for a nap over an hour ago.

I hope you enjoyed this and it helped.

ChristineGuest blogger

Want to talk about how I can help you with more like this? Come over the my website or send an email.

#writing #grammar #writer #author

Scammers, Cyberstalkers and Trolling Book Reviews

I saw this subject recently come up on Twitter this week that Internet Trolls are targeting authors. I thought at first, “interesting” but maybe it’s just something to Tweet about in the #writingcommunity for the sake of tweeting.

As the days went on, this story was getting traction. I also found an article that might back up these claims. Check out the story on

What would you do if you woke up and saw an email like this?


It would devastate me. However, (scammers, cyberstalkers and trolls) it’s not worth it to pay a ransom in my case. I’m really not sure something like this would end my writing career, but I’m not in it for the money.

This also got me thinking about the random emails I get and the links on Twitter—those that wish to guarantee me an excellent review. I guess these are potentially scams as well and could backfire on those who go that route as well. Some messages say that these services that could boost your book can also be the very trolls that are now ruining the lives of hardworking writers.


We might have to change our purchasing practices and not rely on reviews. In my case, if a book intrigues me, I read the first page and then decide to try—then I’ll read the first 5 pages to decide to buy.

Happy reading and have a safe weekend.

There, their or they’re

Repost (by popular request)

Some people have trouble distinguishing between these three words.

A quick way to remember the difference is to memorize these (very short) sentences:

That’s their house (it belongs to them). They live there (at that place). They’re nice (they are nice).

For the more formal explanations, see below.

Their is the possessive determiner. It means belonging to them.

(Note: to pluralize ‘their’, just add an ‘s’, as in: that is theirs. “Theirs” is a possessive pronoun. No need for an apostrophe.)

There is an adverb with several uses.

1) in, at or to that place or position.

2) on that issue.

3) used in attracting attention to someone or something.

4) (there is/are) used to indicate the fact or existence of something.

They’re is the contraction of ‘they are’.

I hope that helps clear up a little confusion on that issue.

Christine – guest blogger

Please email or go to my website for more information or to book an edit

Twitter: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There’s a lot being said these days about the etiquette of social media. The ugly rules here are a basic list that should be observed as the golden rules for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Story Empire

Hello, SEers! It’s a Mae Day on Story Empire, and the topic is Twitter. We all have social media platforms we favor. For me (outside of blogging) it’s all about Tweeting. Strangely, when I first ventured into the realm of social media almost ten years ago, I was certain I would detest Twitter. Not so.

Which brings me to this quick overview of the good, the bad, and the ugly. See if you agree.

Two Head Of Lama, Closeup Portrait, White


Twitter delivers news as it happens, enabling a user to follow a thread as it unfolds in real time. I like that. And not all news is bad news. There’s a lot of silliness out there, too. A few years ago, I remember watching two escaped llamas lead police officers on a merry chase through a downtown city. Tell me THAT wasn’t fun to watch in real time!

There are a lot of connections…

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Often Funny – Author Invented Rules for Writing

Great insight but funny take on what works for other authors.

Story Empire

Photo by Call Me Fred on Unsplash

Hello SEers. John with you today.  I think we all could use a little fun today.

I was doing some research (ahem, make that surfing the net) when I came across an article from the Guardian UK describing several author-provided rules for writing.  I was taken with the list of Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Independence Day. Here is his list:

1 Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.

2 Don’t have children.

3 Don’t read your reviews.

4 Don’t write reviews. (Your judgment’s always tainted.)

5 Don’t have arguments with your spouse in the morning or late at night.

6 Don’t drink and write at the same time.

7 Don’t write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)

8 Don’t wish ill on your colleagues.

9 Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement…

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Writing Quotes

Getting back into the swing of writing my next WIP after some much needed rest. Thought I would let you all know that I’m still around and getting the finishing touches on The Smoke Eater should be out in a few months.

Until then, here’s a motivational quote to push on.