Friday, 20 February 2009

This you will love...

If you want to roar with laughter, read my friend Alan's post here.

It's a selection of blurbs, with his comments.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

One space or two after a full stop?

Many years ago, while I was studying A levels, I did an evening class in typing (I did another in shorthand, but that didn't stick at all). We had a good teacher, and by the end of the year I could touch type, and even had a certificate for the lowliest possible level of proficiency.

I was taught to put two spaces after a full stop, and I've done it ever since. Until last week, when the subject came up on the Authonomy forum. What changed my mind was this comment from Cameron Chapman:

I'm a copyeditor and I would beg everyone to use ONE space after a period. If you check newer style manuals, particularly the Chicago Manual of Style (for the U.S.), they specify one. The primary reason that two spaces used to be standard was because of monospace fonts (courier) on typewriters. It supposedly made it easier to read if there were two spaces between sentences since everything else was spaced exactly the same. It created a sort of "mental break".

Since copyeditors have to take out all those double-spaces before manuscripts go to the printer and we generally have to turn on the "track changes" feature in Word, even auto-replacing all those double-spaces with single-spaces creates a ton of extra work on both the copyeditor's end and the author's/editor's end. All those tracked changes come up with a comment and are marked in red in the manuscript. You can see how that would just create a practically unmanageable amount of clutter on the page.

She convinced me. I've changed the spacing in my three novels' typescripts, and am training myself to use one space as I type henceforth.

(The way to do it in Word is to click Edit, Find, Replace, and put two spaces on Find, one on Replace. Easy.)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Along the wire the electric message came... is no better, it is much the same (with apologies to Alfred Austin).

Here are two quotes from people kind enough to read and comment on Catch a Falling Star on Authonomy:

'Hi Lexi, I saw this was doing well and thought I'd come back to have another look, and... you have improved this so much - I struggled mightily with the plausibility last time, particularly in her reactions to Joe, no such problems this time though - I think in places you still 'tell' the reader too much, in her explaining para's I would try getting rid of the last sentence each time (as it added nothing but repeated previous). But this is now a great read and I can understand why so many have backed it - finally, SHELVED. Good luck.'

'Lexi,came back for another read. You've obviously worked on this and I can see a big improvement, it's tighter, smoother and flows well. Nice one. Its a process this isn't it?Anyway, I'm backing this now - good luck with it.'

The point is, I haven't changed more than a dozen or so words in the first chapters of Catch a Falling Star. The 'improvement' the two readers perceived was entirely imaginary. And I can only conclude they think the book is better because it's currently sitting in the top five of the Authonomy book chart.

Or maybe it's the new cover...