1-Different outputs have different requirements. If you want to self-publish research how to make your kindle book or paper back look professional. Most writers first have their work as a manuscript. A manuscript is a version of your work easy to share with agents, publishers and other writers for peer review.
2-General manuscript format. Times New Roman, type 12, double spaced, 1 inch page margins. A title page including your real name, address, e-mail and phone number, the word counts of your work, the name and number of your agent (if you have one!) The title of your manuscript. A header on each page of the manuscript that looks like this AUTHORLASTNAME/TITLE/PAGENUMBER for example AMMAN/AN ITALIAN ADVENTURE/1. The title page should not be numbered or included in your page count. Check out the guidelines from the writer’s digest.
I know you love your funky handwriting type, but your manuscript needs to conform unless a specific agent or publisher asks otherwise (like size 14 in place of 12). Agents, writers and publishers spend their days reading. Show respect! They need easy to read types that won’t make their eyes fall off their sockets. Don’t give them a reason to trash your manuscript before even starting to read it.
-A new character speaks
-You start a new thought
-You change scene (see below)
I personally love short paragraphs (two or three lines). These look like a third of a page on a kindle and I like to avoid big blocks of text. If you start a new paragraph you either leave a white space (uncommon) or you start the new paragraph 0.5 inches to the right.
5-Trailing white spaces and lines. You need a space after every word. There used to be a time when two spaces where required after a period, that time is gone. Get rid of extra spaces. Scrivener will do that for you.
6-Thoughts. If your narration has a first person POW (see post 7) you need to differentiate between narration, the things your main character says in “quotes”, and the things your character thinks. This will be italicized.
I entered the room and saw Ugly Face Chuck rummaging through my schoolbag. “Back off!” Scumbag.
Narration, “said” thought
7-Foreign words will also be italicized.
8-Words that you want to stress because said with emphasis or with an ironic tone will be italicized or more commonly underlined in a manuscript format.
9-Footnotes are to be avoided at all cost in fiction. Integrate the essential information into the text, unless you’re James Joyce, then go right ahead.
10-Covers and illustrations. If you are thinking to self-publish (I will have a different post on self publishing versus traditional publishing) you will have to find an artist to draw your illustrations or provide them yourself, but if you are looking for an agent or publisher do not provide a cover or an illustration! Very likely they will want to choose them for you. If they are interested in your work this will be a conversation for later. Do not send illustrations with your manuscript unless they are an integral part of your work.
11-Title. This is a tough one. The title has to convey the mood and genre of your story, be catchy and unique. Possibly the title will reveal a second meaning midway through the book. A perfect title is “I’ll give you the sun” it sounds like a bit of romance, whimsical, intense and midway through the book…well, I’ll let you find out. Short title are easier to remember. That said the “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is one of my favorite books, but every time I want to write the title down I have to google it.
That’s it for now! Thank you for reading and happy writing ^_^