Manuscript Impressions Q&A

So far these posts have spawned three good questions (thanks, Chuck!) so I thought instead of responding in the comments I’d add a couple of Q&A posts. The questions are:

#1. Short stories – should your story begin right after your byline?

#2. How do you handle chapters with novels? Chapters with titles?

#3. How do you handle opening quotes in chapters? Such as the quotes from the Galactic Encyclopedia in Asimov’s Foundation Series, or quotes from the Orange Catholic Bible in Frank Herbert’s Dune? Is there a special name for these?

I’m going to answer #1 & #3 here now, and #2 tomorrow in another separate post, since novels are a different beast and have a few rules of their own.

A1. For short stories, yes, start the story immediately following one or two blank lines after the byline. Thus, your first page has, in this order, your contact information, approximate word count, title, byline, and beginning of the story.

A3. Opening quotes in chapters, at the beginning of a short story, or at the beginning of a novel are called epigraphs. I’ll break down the three ways to treat them:

  • At the beginning of a short story. Below your byline (as we’ve discussed earlier) leave a blank line or two and then type the epigraph, centered and indented, and double-spaced. You may or may not wish to set it in italics. On the next line after the quote ends, add the source, preceded by an em-dash and set flush right with the longest line of the quote. This sounds complicated, so I’ll demonstrate:

    When she I loved looked every day/Fresh as a rose in June,
    I to her cottage bent my way,/Beneath an evening-moon.
    –William Wordsworth, Strange Fits of Passion I Have Known

  • At the beginning of a chapter. On the page where a new chapter is to begin, drop down about eighteen lines. Type the epigraph as detailed above. Then drop 4-6 lines and center the chapter heading (“Chapter Ten”). Drop down two more lines and center the chapter title, if there is one.
  • At the beginning of a novel, the epigraph goes on its own page, set up as for the beginning of a chapter.

Come back tomorrow for all the details on novel manuscript layout!

Manuscript Impressions (Part 4 ~ Novels)
Manuscript Impressions (Part 3)
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