Friday, October 30, 2009

Formatting a Novel in Writer

I spent a large chunk of yesterday digging around on the web, trying to figure out how to format a novel in Writer. In order to potentially save you from a similar gruelling process, I'd like to share with you what I found, and what I worked out for myself. (I am assuming Microsoft Word has a similar set of command functions, but I'm not 100% sure.)

My questions were:

ONE: How do I add pages at the beginning of my book, without page numbers – and get the page numbers starting where I want them to, and starting at #1?

1. Type out the pages you want not to have numbers (or hit enter a bunch of times, so you have a couple of blank pages).

2. Make sure your cursor is on the first page. Press F11. This will bring up a Styles and Formatting menu. Click the forth icon from the left at the top of this menu (page styles). Click Index, then double click your page again. (Note, you may have to change your margins back to the way you want them after this, so it might be best to do this first).

3. At the bottom of the text on your final numberless page, click Insert>Manual Break>Select Page Break and set your style to Default. Check Change Page Number and change the page number to 1.

4. On your first numbered page, click Insert> either Header or Footer, whatever your preference>Default.

5. Click inside the grey header box. Click Insert>Fields>Page Number.
You can change the font, colour, etc of your page numbers by highlighting any one of them and altering it the same way you would ordinary text.

TWO: How do I make my book look like a book? (Also, how do I know how many pages my book will be when it's printed in Novel-form?)

Personally, I can't stand to type on anything other than the standard, almost paper-sized white space that pops up when I click new word document. So, I would do this after I'd written it, but if you don't mind writing in a smaller space, you can do it first and save yourself some time later.

1. Find/Decide on your size. There are many standard novel sizes, the one used by CreateSpace and favoured by is 6x9 inches or 15.24x22.86 centimetres (1 inch = 2.54cm. Always a good thing to keep in mind.)

2. Click Format>Page and click the Page Tab. On the right side of the dialogue box, under “Layout Settings”, change the Page Layout to Mirrored. If you're using a 6x9 base, good margins to use are Inner: 2.00cm, everything else: 1.00cm. This leaves enough room on your inner margin for binding.

3. Justify your text. If you're like me, that makes you think of clicking the little justify button. Don't do that; it's not specific enough. Click Format>Paragraph and click the Alignment Tab. Select Justified, and make sure the Last Line is set to Left. This stops your text being spread across the page. Note that this only works when the program recognizes your paragraphs, which if they're indented properly, it will about 85% of the time. If you're still getting words spread across the page, go the end of the paragraph and hit enter, then bring the following paragraph back to where it should be.

4. Choose your font(s). I'm using two, one for chapter titles, one for everything else. If you're self-publishing, make sure your font choices are shareware or public domain, and not protected from commercial use by copyright laws.

5. Choose your spacing. Personally, I'm a fan of 1.5, but it depends on what you like. Most novels are single spaced or close to. I've never come across one that's double spaced, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Format>Paragraph. Click the Indents and Spacing tab and adjust your spacing however you like it.

6. See it in book layout. Click File>Page Preview, then select the Book Preview button (the seventh icon from the left, next to the magnifying glass).

If you have any specific questions (or any other information to add), comment and/or post. I'd be happy to try to find answers to any formatting questions anyone might have, as I'm sure this is stuff we'll all need to know, sooner or later.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm finally getting to the end of my editing process (Mephie is being held together with scotch tape, but is being a remarkably good sport about the whole thing), and starting to look into formatting.

I'm poor, so I don't even have MicrosoftWord. What I do have is OpenOffice. Today I figured out how to get the page numbers not to start on the first page. Now what I need to know is how to justify my text without short sentences being spread across the page l.....i.....k.....e.......... t.....h.....i.....s. If someone could tell me how to achieve that, I would be a happy camper.
I still have no idea what I'm going to do for NaNoWriMo, as I've been focussing all of my attention on Aigaion lately. The other thing, of course, is that my internet connection isn't good enough to even get on the site, let alone sign up. Does anyone know what they're doing yet? I think I just got a good idea. Hum. Shall have to think about that one, and let you guys know.
Oh, and something totally random: I want the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack to play at my wedding... whenever that happens to be.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009!

Hey! Look at that - I'm still alive ;)

Right. National Novel Writer's Month. It starts in about half a month, give or take.

Anyone participating? If so, care to share?

Also, feel free to add me on the NaNoWriMo site. My username is Elvish Kitty. I can't say that I'll actually write anything this year, but I want to give it a go.

Anyway, my working title so far is Self Indulgent Nonsense, which - while perfectly describing my story - probably doesn't send the right message. When I have the synopsis actually worked out (and a better title) I shall tell you what it is. In the mean time, its one of the sequels for The Story That Rainbow Brite Spawned, or, rather, the fantasy stories I wrote for my cousin when I was 13 or so.

This one's a little bit different. I hope.

I also hope that everyone else is participating too. If so, I strongly suggest beginning your preliminary research and outlines soon - unless, of course, you're one of those lucky people who can come up with an idea merely by sitting down in front of the computer/at the writing desk. If not, keep in mind that you need to write 1666.7 words a day to make the 50,000 word deadline - and an outline might just come in handy for that.

And, if you haven't even gotten an idea yet...feel free to brainstorm here! That is, of course, what this site's ultimately for (even if we all vanish from time to time ;)