I've been typing away for a few weeks now. Putting all my dirty thoughts into a steamy romance novel. I'm having a hard time with the formatting (When to end and begin a new chapter? How many words should be on each page?)... and so on. Can any of you direct me to a resource or advise me from experience? Thanks!
Advice on formatting an MS can be found in many 'How To' books on writing, such as the Artists' & Writers' Yearbook.
While some agents and publishers have their own particular format, the standard one is for the font to be Courier New, 12 point, double-line spacing on one side of an A4 sheet. The first line of each paragraph should be indented, and there should be no line gap between paragraphs. All pages should be numbered.
If you're unsure how to structure a chapter, I strongly suggest you take a creative writing class or join a writers' circle local to you. You'll find these invaluable for feedback.
Research the market you're aiming for by reading as much as possible.
Also, try reading Stephen King's "On Writing" as this offers a huge amount of useful advice on technique and on how to develop a writing career.
Thank you for your advice. I will look into this.
I second the advice above. Particularly on Stephen King's "On Writing". He also provides examples from his own manuscripts before they were published. I was advised to check out Sol Stein's "On Writing", as well. I haven't read it yet but it may help you.
A couple of tips off the top of my head:
- Chapters generally can be between 5 to 10 pages.
- I'm tentative on the whole 'how many words' thing because sometimes authors will try to throw in fillers to beef up chapters. But I would go with possibly 2500 to 4500 words per chapter at bare minimum, depending on how long your novel will be.
- Keep the doors closed on your first draft, meaning don't let anyone read it. Open the doors on your second draft if you really want peer reviews and feedback.
- Take a peek at some of the books from your favorite and most successful erotica or romance authors and pay attention to their formatting.
A chapter can be any length. You have to 'feel' when something has shifted in the story.
You can go to InstantPublisher.com to download a free cover and page template for any size book you want. You open a blank page in the new format and copy your ms into it. You'll need to save the file as a pdf if your sending it to someone else.
Also check blurb.com - they may have a template to download.
The only formatting you need as you write is inch margins, a standard font and put paragraphs and chapter breaks where it seems best.
I wrote some hubs based on true life experiences and they were in danger of becoming hot and steamy, so I re-edited them and toned down the content for Hub Pages (The Encounters stories). In a book, the rules are different, so you can be as hot and steamy as you like.
What kind of other books do you like - and have you looked at other writers who write similar? Check them out or get a few free from a library and check them out. Present your typescript well. Make sure that it's double-spaced with numbered pages, printed on good quality A4 paper on one side only, with generous margins. Check and indicate your word count. The 2 links I give below will provide answers to all your questions and more, the websites are free to join - I joined them a year ago and they are a great help.
How big chapters should be depends on what happens in the chapter. If not much happens, it will be a small chapter, if big or great things happen in another part of it all happens, that chapter will be longer. You can add filler or what they call "padding" to chapters to fluff them up a bit, like more detail. You can slow things down so it takes longer to tell the events. Try not to force the chapters to be all the same size or quantity, but a few thousand words at least ought to do.
Steamy stories about relationships can be just great fodder for books. Adding suspense or conflict can turn a book on its head, but that's not related to your question. I suggest getting hold of "The Artists and Writers Yearbook" - here's the link:
...there are now several varieties of such a book about, and they all give advice of formatting for this genre of book. Check this link as it is a website and should answer your questions better. I use it myself and its a huge writers resource:
By the way, if you email any publisher and tell them you are writing a book and ask them for advice on formatting they will happily tell you. Best of luck in your writing.
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