Monday, October 13, 2014

Confessions of a Techy-Challenged Author

Formatting. The very word makes me quake. My friends, publisher, and editors all run for the hills when I ask questions about making my manuscript look pretty.

Some of my difficulties included:

1.  Getting solid or broken lines across my pages.
2.  The case of the disappearing header.
3.  Wonky spacing.

What's a techy-challenged writer to do?

1.  Hit the search engines - whatever you use will work. They've steered me to solid answers on how to use my Microsoft 2003 program. (Yes, 2003 - not a typo!)

2.  Ask questions. Someone eventually takes pity on me and unscrambles my brain.

3.  Improvise. With my current WIP, Out of the Mist, I got around the formatting problem by saving a correct document with the next chapter number, deleting the content, and then proceeding to write the new chapter. (Each chapter of my book is initially in separate documents.)

I'm hoping when this manuscript is ready to be sent to my publisher that it will be pristine. Maybe he and the editors will eventually forget my past formatting woes.

Writers:  What areas of formatting trip you up?

Readers: This is more of a plea than a question. When you see a formatting mistake, please extend some grace. This process isn't an easy one, especially for the techy challenged among us.

Photo Credit:  miljan


Carol Garvin said...

Oh, you have my condolences! The only formatting that frustrates me is the 'autoformat' options that MSWord (for the Mac) wants to apply by default. I disable them as quickly as I can!

I'm surprised to hear you keep chapters in separate files. Merging them is a pain I'm amazed your editors tolerate. I just had to merge three documents, much like novel chapters (part of the church history I've been compiling) and that was such a nuisance.

I'm glad you have helpful techy friends to approach!

Karen Lange said...

I have trouble sometimes with formatting. I've even gone so far as to copy and paste content and start a new document. I need to take time to learn more about Word and it's problem solving issues. Thanks for the tips, Susan! :)

Jean Fischer said...

I agree with Carol that the 'autoformat' option in Word for Mac is a pain. Other than that, I have no big issues with formatting. I also agree with Carol that saving chapters in separate files and then trying to merge them is probably not a good idea. It can create even more formatting issues. Maybe your editor can provide you with a Word template to use?

Loree Huebner said...

It took me some time to learn formatting. I used to just write willy-nilly when I started. My daughter would then set it for me...that was over 14 years ago. Fortunately, I have a neighbor who showed me how to work Word. It's all try, try, and try until you get it right.

quietspirit said...

I FULLY understand your circumstance. I have features on my word processing program I still don't know how to use after two years on this system.

You'll get no negatory commnent from me!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - it's always such a learning process and I'm not even there yet ..

Good luck with it all .. cheers Hilary