Friday, October 5, 2012

Su Halfwerk, Tips to Make Writing Easier

Today's guest is multi-published author Su Halfwerk.  Su is going to share some of her tips to "make writing easier."

Make Writing Easier
By: Su Halfwerk

I used to take great pains to "beautify" my manuscripts before submission until I figured no one will see them except for me and the editor. The final product never resembles what I submitted. Worse still is the discovery that extra formatting causes conversion errors when the time comes to produce some electronic formats. 
Below I'm sharing few tips to make your editor's life, as well as yours, easier. They are all based on the assumption that you're using MS Word for works of fiction. Words in capital are menu options in MS Word.

Black is the way to go. 
Use the automatic black color for the fonts on white page. Anything else is distracting and won't be used in the finished book.

Easily readable fonts are your friends. 
I stick to serif typeface like Times New Roman, 12pt. It's more comfortable to read and better to spot spelling mistakes. 

Equally spaced margins. 
Margins are usually required to be set to 1 Inch all around the document, unless your publisher lists a different setup. It can be changed through FILE - PAGE SETUP - MARGINS.

Being bold isn't all that. 
Actually, bold isn't a necessity at all. Italics yes (sparingly,) but bold can be used for chapter heading which the typesetter might remove to follow house rules.

Not everyone needs space. 
Especially a hyphen and an em-dash. No space before and after these two.

TAB key is cursed. Never touch it. 
Instead go to FORMAT - Paragraph - INDENTATIONS - SPECIAL - FIRST LINE, and enter a number. Usually it's 0.5 Inch.

When done writing a chapter, don't press Enter to go to next page. 
Instead go to INSERT - BREAK - PAGE BREAK. No matter how much you make changes to that manuscript, each chapter will start on a new page.

Don't leave spaces after the last full stop in a paragraph. 
The honorable thing to do after a full stop is pressing 'Enter' to go to next line.

Styles are not always in fashion. 
They muck the formatting. Avoid applying styles in your document. Not all programs understand MS Word's styles.

Justification is important, but not justified margin. 
It looks neat, I agree, but it also leaves holes between words. Besides, if needed, you can always highlight the whole thing and click on the 'Justify' icon. 

Simpler is better.
When I write, I don't use page numbers or styles and formatting options. IF it's a publisher's requirement, then it's a matter of a couple of clicks to do so. Always keep your original file free of formatting. Apply those to a copy of the file you're submitting to that publisher. Not to jinx you, but you might end up having to submit to another publisher with different guidelines.

If you must remind yourself of something to do to the story or document... 
Add it as a comment in a bubble. They are easier to spot and remove than a changed font color.
 What about you? Do you have a tip that can save fellow authors and editors' time?

About Su Halfwerk:

Su Halfwerk writes in the horror and paranormal romance genres. From a tender age, the written word left a strong impression on her...later on terrifying, blood-chilling books became the object of her interest. Su’s style in horror combines shuddery terror with elements of surprise; some would even call it an enigmatic twist. In the world of paranormal romance, she transforms the desire to scare into a quest to seduce and tantalize.

Other books by Su Halfwerk:
  • His to Possess (Finalist in 2011 EPIC Awards in the Paranormal Romance category)

  • Seeker Book 1 of Unsettled series (Paranormal Romance)

When not writing, Su is designing book trailers for herself and other authors.
You can find Su online here: Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Novel Prevue


  1. Penny,
    Thanks for having me today.

  2. Great job Su on the post and great tips to remember!

  3. Hi, Su! Thank you for sharing these important tips.

  4. Ah, I've long suspected that about the tab key!

  5. @KD: Thank you. I'm glad you found these tips helpful.
    @Susanne: You're welcome.
    @Cheryl: LOL, very astute. That key is either cursed or possessed.

  6. My pleasure, Su. You shared some great tips.

  7. Excellent post, Su. THE TAB KEY IS CURSED!!!!! Aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhh!!!

  8. LOL, spoken like a horror author, Jenny ;-D