Ernest Hemingway step aside

January 18, 2006 | It's All About Writing

because you’ve written the newest Great American Novel. Sorry to deflate your ego, but…

Welcome to Week Four. Pretty exhausted aren’t you after the writing frenzy of Weeks Two and Three. It’s not going to get any easier so sit back and grab a red pen.

Self-editing is one of the hardest aspects of writing. It’s now time to delete all those beautiful words full of your soul. Can’t do it? Won’t get published.

There are several steps in editing and not necessarily in this order;

1. Format
2. Spell check
3. Point of View
4. Punctuation
5. Setting the chapter
6. Tighten the writing
7. Redundancies
8. Passive writing
9. Syntax
10. Get rid of the crap
11. Line edit

We’ll take them in small groups to give each point proper consideration.


The writing industry has common format requirements. Most publishers want the submission in;

• Times New Roman or Courier. Both fonts are in 12 pt.
• Use a 1” margin on all sides.
• Double-space the entire text.
• Start each new chapter on its own page, one-third of the way down. The chapter number should be in all caps.
• Begin the body of the chapter four lines the chapter title.
• Indent five spaces for each new paragraph

I use Microsoft Word. All of this can be preset by clicking onto Format on your toolbar, from the dropdown list, click onto Paragraph. You’ll find everything you need to format successfully.

If you’re really new to all this and haven’t done the formatting before you typed your novel it’s easy to fix. Highlight the manuscript then click on Format and continue with the above directions.

You probably know the publisher you’re striving to impress. Go onto their website and print out their Guidelines for the Header and Footer requirements and any others not listed above.


The writer’s best friend? No way. Spell Check is great for the basics but it can’t tell the difference between ‘buy’ and ‘by’. Later as you’re reading your work for the nineteenth time you’ll uncover words misused. At that time you’ll make the corrections.

After you’ve formatted the novel return to the toolbar and click on Spell Check. As it scans your work it will come up with incorrect spelling and phrasing. Be sure of what you want changed. Do not arbitrarily accept all the corrections.

I’ll be back Friday for Point of View. Until then,

Happy Writing,

Add A Comment

7 Responses to “Ernest Hemingway step aside”

  1. Sherrill Quinn Says:

    And don’t forget to cut out all the unnecessary “that’s”… 🙂

  2. Sloane Says:

    LOL. How could I ever forget THAT.

    The other night I was reading a newspaper article by a noted columnist and wanted to strangle myself. Ah well, I guess if you get the big bucks THAT is the least of your worries.

  3. Yasmine Says:

    Try reading the sports section. Those guys love the word ‘that’I can’t wait until you get to grammar and punctunation. On second thought, yes I can.

  4. For The Trees Says:

    And then he realized that he wasn’t going to get any better at it unless he really tried it – and that was when he knew that Sloane’s blog on that was the thing that brought him to tears when he saw that his manuscript was 25% “and then,” 25% “that,” and 25% “just.” That was what killed his story. That was when he said, “That’s It!”

    If you don’t start giving us longer posts on this writing stuff, I’m going to have gnawed my fingernails completely off, and will have to type with the bloody stumps…Please! Save a keyboard!

  5. Sloane Says:

    Ahhh, Forest, you sweet thing. How can I not do my bit for keyboards around the world? And I don’t believe for one minute all that bs about percents.

    I’ll do my best to elaborate more but I can’t guarantee it will make it better.

    Yasmine, you’re too funny. Men definitely speak different than women. Maybe that’s good thing!!

  6. Jenna Howard Says:

    This is fantabulous stuff, Sloane. Blam! Granted my brain hurts but wow…just wow.

    The That Whore.

  7. Sloane Says:

    Dear That Whore,

    It’s a pleasure to hear from you again and that you appreciate all that effort I make. That your brain is overwhelmed is not something that I can believe. You’re too damned savvy for that!

    Hi Jenna, Diva of all Romance and Humor, glad you stopped by and now that my editing is done and the book is at Trikelion, I intend to plague you again.