Writing A Short Story Manuscript Format For Publication

Details about the best way to format a short story manuscript for submission.

Persistence. Talent. Imagination. These are the hallmarks of a good fiction writer. Without them, you'll never succeed in the overpopulated field that publishing's become these days. Even with them, you're not guaranteed success. Nevertheless, there are certain conventions that, when followed, can give your manuscripts that professional look and feel that sets them apart from the rest of the slush pile. Among these, the basic rules of manuscript formatting loom largest.

Ten Not-So-Little Rules

Every writer develops his or her own style, even when it comes to marketing their work. Nevertheless, there's a basic body of rules every writer should know. In time, these rules will become so familiar that you'll use them without even thinking about them.

1. Print your stories on white 20-pound paper. There's no need to use anything else, since 20-pound white bond is the industry standard. It's also cheap (copier paper works just fine). Colored paper is annoying and amateurish, and erasable paper isn't particularly erasable.

2. Always type or word-process your manuscript (or at least have someone else do it). No self-respecting editor would ever consider a hand-written manuscript.

3. Try to print your article with a laser printer; you can get a good one new for less than $250 these days. If you don't have one, borrow a friend's, use the office's during lunchtime, or go to Kinko's. Inkjet printers are OK, but dot-matrix printers don't cut it. If you're one of those prehistoric hard-cases who still pecks away at a typewriter, always use a clean, sharp ribbon.

4. Avoid double-sided copies or printouts. They're too hard to read and edit.



5. Use Courier, Courier New, or a similar easily-read font. You don't want the editor to get eyestrain, do you?

6. Double-space between lines. Never triple space. Use two double-spaces to indicate a scene break or the passage of time. The first line of each paragraph should be indented about half an inch.

7. Make sure your margins are at least one-and-a-half inches wide (but don't overdo it). Leave the right margin unjustified; this makes it easier to edit.

8. On the first page of your manuscript, include your contact and rights information. In the upper left corner, type your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if you have one). In the upper right corner, type the estimated word count. On subsequent pages, include a header in the upper left corner that briefly identifies your manuscript and its author (for example, "Joe Blow/Story"). Page numbers should be centered at the bottom of the page, but don't bother with a page number on page one.

9. About a third of the way down the first page, center the text and type the story's title in bold caps. Keep your text centered, drop down one double space, and type the word "by" followed by your penname. Then press Enter twice, left justify your text, indent your paragraph, and start typing your story. Continue until done.

10. Once you've brought your opus to a close, drop down two or three lines, center your text, and type THE END in bold caps. Ta-da, you're done!

This is what your properly-formatted title page should look like:

John Q. Scribbler 700 words

1600 Marvin Gardens

Atlantic City, NJ 21000

(123) 456-7890

[email protected]

HOW TO FORMAT A SHORT STORY MANUSCRIPT FOR PUBLICATION

by Jake Scribbler

Persistence. Talent. Imagination. These are

the hallmarks of a good fiction writer. Without

them, you'll never success in the dog-eat-dog

field that publishing's become these days. Even

with them, you're not guaranteed success.

Nevertheless, there are certain conventions that,

when followed, can give your manuscripts that

professional look and feel that sets them apart

from the rest of the slush pile. Among these, the

basic rules of manuscript formatting loom largest.

Ten Not-So-Little Rules

Every writer develops his or her own style,

even when it comes down to the marketing aspects

of their work. Nevertheless, there's a basic body

of rules every writer should know. In time,

these rules will become so familiar you'll use

them without even thinking about them.

******

THE END

© High Speed Ventures 2011