April Showers Mean Writing Power

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…


“Someone at the door, girl?” Ah, UPS.

“Hey, how you doing?”

“Delivery from Springhill Nursery, sir.”

Perfect, time to get the yard into shape…

Killer Kahlua

If you are like my family, the great outdoors is where you spend a lot of time. Because of that, I keep my yard looking quite nice. After all, when we bought the house, we were forced to spend $15K on landscaping. If I spend that much on anything, I like to keep it looking good.

Well, April is here and along came the rain. Great for my lawn, but not so much for my golf clubs and mountain bike:( However, we can turn those rainy days into a writing opportunity. If you were planning to play outside but the rain stopped you, then turn to your computer and get some of your novel finished. After all, you had the time booked for fun, and what is more fun than writing? Spring cleaning? Yeah, right!

As I write this, it is a rainy Saturday, and my wife and I are in the office glued to our computers. I turn any change in plans to an opportunity. Considering ‘Time is the fire in which we burn.‘, then let’s not waste those precious hours pining for our mountain bikes, golf clubs, or gardening tools, but use it productively to pursue our writing dreams.

Last month, I gave you the idea of creating a novel template for your manuscript that varies from your traditional manuscript format. Since we are writing a novel, let’s make it look like a novel. I told you how to resize the paper, set the margins, and configure the headers and footers. This month, we are going to continue building that template by adding the book front matter. When done, you will only need to fill in the story.

Go back and open the file, BookTitleDRAFT-1.doc, from last month so we can complete its configuration. First we must create the front pages that contain the various matter required within the publishing industry. If you have a publisher, they will do all this for you, but if you self-publish, you need to get familiar with this matter.

On the first page, enter the title of your book at the top of the page in Times Roman 24pt font. Make the title all upper case and center it on the line in Bold font. This is the only thing that should be on this page, so make sure you don’t add page numbers or any headers/footers. This is important, do not enter a page break for the next page. Instead, use Insert | Break | Next Page. This ensures different header and footer formatting on these pages.

The second page can contain your additional published works. Please make sure you don’t list anything that has not actually been published. At the top of the page, I center the phrase Also by Authorname: in Bold font. Now, enter two line feeds and list your books, left-justified. I prefer 16pt for the also by line, but 14pt for the book list. Again, use Times Roman. You can use different fonts, but be aware that may cause the publisher some problems. If you haven’t any other books, leave this page blank.

Insert another Next Page to create the third page. This is another title page, but contains your name as the author. At the top of page, enter the title of your book, centered in the same format as the first page. Add two line feeds, then enter By Authorname using a slightly smaller font size, like 16pt or 18pt but still in Bold. Great, now insert another Next Page to continue.

At this point, you are wondering why so much has to be added before the actual book itself. Part of it is the industry standard, and part is to give appropriate credit where credit is due. Have patience, and follow the rest of the directions.

After the second title page, you must create the copyright page containing the information about the copyright and publisher. I place the following on this page, left justified, standard font (11pt):

  • BookTitle, all upper case, in Bold font (change this to 14pt)
  • Copyright 2010 by Authorname
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
  • This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
  • Publisher name and address
  • ISBN number (pbk)
  • Printed in the United States of America
  • For more information about this book or the author:
  • Author website address

I place two line feeds between each item of data on this page to provide readability. To support the industry standard, you must have a copyright page that also contains the ISBN of the book. Insert a Next Page to continue.

This next page is the dedication page. At the top of the page in standard font, write whatever dedication you would like. Thank your family, your writing group, your mom, whatever. I keep my dedications short and sweet, but I have seen the page filled. It made it sound like an Academy Award acceptance speech! “And I want to especially thank my neighbor’s sister’s gardener who kept the flowers outside my office window so beautiful.” Sheesh, I’m going to cry.

Okay, insert two Next Pages to leave the first one blank so that the first page of your book appears on the right page with a blank page opposite it when the book is open. Insert about five to six line feeds before you enter Chapter 1 in a large font like 20pt. If your chapters are titled, then replace with the title of the chapter. make sure it is left or right justified and Bold.

Add two line feeds and you are ready to begin typing the novel. After this point, let the automatic page insert create pages as you type. These will all be part of the same section, thus having the same headers and footers.

Unfortunately, I will defer the headers and footers until next time, but you can still download the template to begin using it. It has headers and footers already created with page numbers. Use it, enjoy it, and remember this is the finished product you are trying to create. Nothing is quite like holding that novel in your hands. With this formatting, you are that much closer.

Now, where are those gardening gloves?


Spring Into Action

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…


Hmm, three going on twenty-three.

“Yes, sweetie?”

“We want to play in snow!”

Snow, in March? Rocky Mountain springtime…

Tori the Terrible

On Monday I played golf in near short’s weather, but yesterday I was shoveling out of 9″ of snow–a 3′ drift behind my car! I love the Rocky Mountains, but the seasons are screwed up at 7000 feet above sea level. We have warm, spring-like weather in the Winter and snow in the Spring. Oh well, as long as they can clear the snow off the greens by tomorrow, I guess I can live with it.

Here I sit, one year later, about to publish my thirteenth blog in this series, and I wonder where we have been and where we are going. By the way, thirteen is lucky for me, it is always the fastest isle in the grocery store. But I digress. I must admit, I have given my readers a taste of the organizational skills they need to succeed in their writing, but what about the writing itself?

A grand question that must be addressed. In fact, I plan to dedicate most of this year to addressing that question by imparting to you my experiences with writing novels and things each writer should be wary of. Some of my blogs will be organizational in nature, while others will discuss mechanical aspects of writing itself.

Now, I am no writing expert like you might find at your local college or university, but I can offer practical advice based on my own experiences writing and publishing three novels, one self-help book, two blogs, and about to publish my fourth novel. Also, while I am tooting my own horn, I was an honors English student in high school, if that counts for anything. Oh, and I have written millions of words of technical documentation as a software engineer for twelve years.

All right, all right, enough self adulation, let’s spring into action! As I said, I am not an expert on the subject of writing, but I do have a bit of an expertise on the art of writing. With that small bit of expertise, I will attempt to help you achieve your own artistic dreams of writing. After all, isn’t that why you went into writing? A passion? A need to express yourself in the written form? A deep desire to tell the world the stories that have built up in you over the years? If not, give up now.

Okay, I am all about product, so let’s get you springing into action with something tangible you can produce during your next Appointment to Write. What, you haven’t been keeping your appointments? Shame on you! If writing really is important to your life, then you will keep that appointment! Don’t feel too bad, I have missed a few, too.

But now, let’s get back to it, and start producing that great novel simmering inside you. I find that before I begin writing, I like to have my template created within which I will write my story. There is something inspiring about having this created, tangible, and near publishing quality. What you ask, near publishing quality?

Yeah, you heard me write, I mean right! Why start with something crude and unappealing except maybe to some writing teacher who needs double spaces to mark up all the grammatical errors? Look, I am writing a novel, and I want it to look like one from the start.

Fine, I hear some of you, you’re hung up on the old standard 8.5″x11″, 1″ margins, double spaced format, the bellwether for so many years. But please, do away with ye ol’ typewriter you got for college and join the 21st century of writing. It’s all digital now, and we can format anyway we want, whenever we want, and produce whatever anyone wants.

In other words, you can create a novel, printout the ol’ standard for your writing teacher, or post it in the blog of your writing group. What, you don’t have a writing group or a writing group blog? Sorry, that’s another post you’ll have to wait to read. For me, I like producing a novel, and I want it to look like a novel.

Okay, nuts and bolts. To create your novel template in Microsoft Word, you will need to start with a fresh new document. Save the document using the following naming convention: BookTitleDRAFT-1.doc. Great, as you progress (after each chapter written), you will save-as the document, increasing the draft number by one each time. This is the poor man’s way to file versioning, but hey, it works.

Now that you have created the file and saved it to your writing folder, we must set up the global book format before we address each section and paragraph. In Word, select the Page Setup dialog. I am purposely avoiding the specific menu keystrokes to access this as many people will be using different versions of Word. If you are using another editing program, consult their documentation to find out where you access the page setup options. When you have it in Word, you see the following dialog:

Microsoft Word Page Setup Dialog

Now, we will go through this tab by tab and setup your novel properly. By-the-by, this is for a 6″x9″ novel, but the same would work for any other format with proper tweaking. On the Margins tab, first set the Multiple Pages field to Mirror Margins. This sets the document up into a book format where opposite pages are mirrored. Then, set the following field values:

  • Top: 0.6″
  • Bottom: 0.6″
  • Inside: 0.6″
  • Outside: 0.6″
  • Gutter: 0.25″

The gutter is for the binding area inside each page. If you don’t set that, the binding will obscure the text on the inside portion of each page, making for an unpleasant reading experience.

So far so good, let’s continue. Select the Paper tab. We want to change the Paper size to the finished product. Select Custom size and set the Width to 6″ and the Height to 9″. Superb, now select the Layout tab.

Keep Section start as New page as this affects the headers and footers. Okay, now select both check boxes for the Headers and Footers so that they are Different for Odd and Even pages and for the first page of each new section (chapter in our case). Now, set the distance between each header and footer to 0.3″ from the edge. This is good for both appearance and to keep it from being chopped off when the book is cut during printing.

Once you have set these values in the Page Setup dialog, click on OK to make the changes to the whole document. The advantage to me, besides the nicety of having an actual “book” in the making, is that I see what the finished product will look like, gauge approximately how many pages it will contain when published, and to provide a pleasant reading experience for my writing group. For a novel in this format, I shoot for 300-500 pages.

I don’t know about you, but the standard 8.5″x11″ double spaced is not a pleasant reading experience. If your writing group needs this space to annotate your grammatical errors, you shouldn’t be writing a novel anyway, you should be in a writing class at your local college or university! Learn the mechanics first, then apply them to the art.

If you have an existing document with which you have been working, you can still make these changes to it at any time. Since the changes affect the whole document, Word will simply reformat your writing to fit within these new parameters. Try it out, and I think you will appreciate this new way of working on a novel. I think it is inspirational and will always be a crowd pleaser in your writing group.

Next month, I will discuss how to complete this template by adding the up front pages (title, copyright, toc, etc) and even provide you an actual template you can use. I will also outline how to insert your chapters, set your headers and footers for odd and even pages, and format your paragraphs to give it that nice, finished look. So tune in to learn more about how to inspire you to spring into action and get your writing underway.

Now, where on earth is that sled? Didn’t I just swap it out for my golf clubs? Oh, brother!