Ten things I wish I would have known before I started writing

Okay maybe not ten, but there are definitely things that if I would have known before I let my creative muse out of the bag, I wouldn’t have had to go back and do a bunch a stuff.

First, your manuscript should be double-spaced, no I’m not stupid. I knew it needed to be double-spaced, what I didn’t know is that there should only be one space between a period and the start of the next sentence. Like this.  Not like this.

Imagine having to go through a 400-something page document and having to take out all those extra spaces. Save yourself sometime.  

Now let’s be clear here, there are thousands, maybe I’m exaggerating manuals on writing and every Tom, Dick and Harriet has his or her own preference the key is to be consistent. So for example all number up to ninety-nine are supposed to be written out. Once you get past 100 you can use the numeral. But basketball scores look funny written out so I do them in numbers winning score first “We won the game 70 to 56.” But, if you say, “They beat us by twelve points,” I would write it out.

Age on the other hand is written out, seven-years-old or eighty-eight, now I’m not sure if once you get over 100 whether it’s the same one-hundred-years-old and then how would you write 101 one-hundred and one?  

If you are describing a person height is written out, “I’m six foot one.” Not 6’1.  

Dates: November 24, 1995, if it’s in the middle of a sentence a comma after the year.  

And a few weird ones that might make you ask, “What the heck is she writing about?” Well hopefully one-day I’ll be published and you’ll see.  

M16 assault rifle – is now you write M16 assault rifle, do not capitalize assault or rifle it would be the same with an AK47.

Injury classifications, if you are writing about disabilities this applies to you, if not feel free to ask a question, T6, C4,

In general writers follow the Chicago Manual of Style, journalists use the Associated Press Stylebook, but since I already paid someone to help me out with these questions I thought I would share. Now if you are writing a piece for a magazine I’m not sure which you would use it would probably depend on the type of piece. Whatever you decide be consistent, you’re gonna get edited anyways, being consistent at least gives you the chance to get edited.

The key is to figure out what you are doing and stick to it, going back through your manuscript and trying to find all the instances where you weren’t consistent or put too many spaces is HELL! Been there done that, please learn from my mistakes.

My next post was going to be about getting started; however, for those of you who like me are in the long and painful process of trying to get published, I’m going to write about query letters. Why? Because I had to search all over the Web to find examples of how to write a query letter and most of the examples were for fiction.

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