Author's Manual

Annotated Sample Manuscript

1 October 2005

Subject: Sample manuscript for the guidelines
Author: Eric Flint and the Gazette Editorial Board
Date: 1 October, 2005

It's been suggested that I post a sample manuscript so that people can see visibly for themselves some of the points I raised in the guidelines. I think that's a good idea, so I'm copying here the opening of Virginia's story from the first issue of the Gazette.

My own observations will be indicated by [NOTE #whatever], followed by specific comments at the end.

[NOTE #1]

Virginia Demarce [NOTE #2]
1234 W 5th St
Alexandria, VA 01234
(210) 555-7654

Virginia DeMarce [NOTE #3]

April 1633 [NOTE #4]

Ed Piazza squirmed as inconspicuously as possible on the hard bench of the University of Jena's anatomy amphitheater, as the debate on differing Lutheran views of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, both up-time and down-time, flew over and around his head in three different languages. Before he'd made the acquaintance of the different parties that existed among Grantville's new citizenry, he had just been naive in his assumption that only his own Roman Catholic church encompassed communicants with views as divergent as those of Francisco Franco and Dorothy Day. [NOTE #5]

The brightest idea that anyone-anyone at all-had had last winter had been Samantha Burka's suggestion that the growing tensions among the Lutherans of the United States could be dodged by taking advantage of political geography. Count Ludwig Guenther of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt had not only built St. Martin's in the Fields Lutheran Church, of currently uncertain orthodoxy, for the benefit of Grantville's huge influx of Lutheran citizens but had also built it on his own land. [NOTE #6]True, Rudolstadt was part of the new little United States; but, on the other hand, the United States was a confederation and that territory was not the responsibility of Grantville itself. Thus, the Grantville government could take the high road, virtuously declaring that it did not interfere in ecclesiastical disputes, and dump the whole squabble into the lap of the Rudolstadt administration.

Consequently the count, with the assistance of his chancellor and consistorial advisors, was presiding over this circus, while Ed was watching. In any station of life, a man can find something to be thankful for. [NOTE #7]

*** [NOTE #8]

Somebody made another reference to the Formula of Concord. This, Ed had learned in his desperate pre-conference dash through the applicable chapters of the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, supplemented by a briefing book that the new Grantville Research Center had pulled together for him from the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, had been produced fifty years earlier as part of a major effort to get all the Lutheran theologians on the same wavelength. It still served as a sort of measuring-stick for orthodox Lutheran views in 1633-and had in the twentieth century as well. [NOTE #9]

Ed glanced down toward the floor as the conscientious young man at the chalkboard, using his one good arm, quickly wrote the page reference for the audience to follow along. Jonas Justinus Muselius had been in Grantville for almost the whole two years since the Ring of Fire and had a pretty swift head and hand when it came to getting around in three languages at once. He now taught at the new Lutheran grade school next to the controversial church just outside Grantville's borders. [NOTE #10]

In his own copy of the Concordia Triglotta, Ed leafed over to the proper page in English. The tome not only had the Formula of Concord, Latin and German on the left-hand page and English with a blank column on the right-hand page, but most of the major Reformation documents that had led up to it-the Lutheran catechisms, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, etc. Ed guessed that they were lucky that the Lambert kid was a devout Lutheran. He'd had that book, with the whole thing conveniently lined up in all three languages so the content matched on each pair of pages-all 1,285 of them, index included. Every participant in the Rudolstadt Colloquy now had one, included in the registration packet, which made for a hefty weight in the tote bags.

The publisher in Jena had been happy to get the order. He said cheerfully that if he had any copies left over after the conference, he'd just get someone to smuggle them into England and cause that half-Papist Laud some trouble.

Ed's pencil wiggled. A doodle bloomed on the upper left-hand corner of page 123 (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. IV. (II.), English version) and gradually expanded to become an illustrated border all the way around the scholastics, the good works, and the "many great and pernicious errors, which it would be tedious to enumerate." The speaker, clearly, had no problems with tedium. It looked like he was going to enumerate them all. The full sleeve of his gown snagged on a corner of the book; its skirt scrunched up under him, even though he had smoothed it out before he sat down. [NOTE #11]


  • [1] Page headers are optional. We will simply have to remove them. If you use one, include the story title and author's name. You may put a page number in, but it is unimportant. As the font is changed, the document edited and formatted the page numbers will change. Use the same page header on all the pages. Don't get fancy.

  • [2] This needs to be your real legal actual name, your real legal actual address, and your real actual phone number. We can't write a check to a pen name, and we can't mail it to an imaginary address. The phone number is optional, but sometimes we need to ask last minute questions, and having the phone number helps a good bit.

  • [3] This is the way the title and byline should be done. The title is highlighted in bold as well as being in all caps. It should also be centered using the word processors CENTER function. Do not center things with spaces.

    In Webscriptions, the title is also in a larger font size as well as in all-caps, but don't YOU do that. That's something Paula and I will take care of when the time comes for us to design what the issue will look like.

    The basic principle involved here - and it's the same for most of these rules - is as follows:

    The more complicated you make things, the more work - stoopit, pointless, irritating, annoying, aggravating, pestiferous, irksome, time-wasting, really-ticks-me-off (get the hint?) work - you create for me and/or Paula.

    Always remember the KISS principle. (That stands for "KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID," not that - God forbid - I would want to suggest that any denizen of the Bar is a dunce. Perish the thought!)

    You are the AUTHOR. Thazzit. You are NOT the magazine designer. You are NOT the typesetter. Do NOT throw in all sorts of fancy and clever changes in fonts and font sizes and mutter knows what else into your text. EVERYTHING IN TWELVE-POINT. (Our motto.)

  • [4] This is how sub-titles, section titles, chapter titles, etc, should be done. The sub-title is left justified, italicised and bold.

  • [5]Notice that there is no line spacing between this paragraph and the next. One flows right into the other. I know that makes it hard to read on the Bar, but that's because the Bar doesn't show paragraph indentations. Webscriptions, on the other hand, does show it - and it's a lot easier to read text - long pieces of fiction, anyway, if not business letters - where the paragraphs aren't constantly broken up by line breaks. Notice also that the paragraph is indented. Do this indenting with a TAB. Do not set up a paragraph format which automatically changes the margins in the document to be indented on the first line. The correct procedure for a new paragraph is to press ENTER, and then to press TAB. Turn off all auto-formatting in your word processor.

  • [6] Notice that "his own" is italicized. The key thing is that it is actually italicized in the manuscript. The italics are NOT indicated by using an artificial device like underlining, bracketing the words either by _underlines_ or by *asterisks*.

    Remember the KISS principle? You want something in italics? Well, gee, what's the SIMPLEST way to do that? Put it in italics, right? (This is really not rocket science. In fact, the problems usually arise when people try to make it rocket science.)

  • [7]I will readily admit that the rules on whether or not to capitalize titles are always a little fuzzy. Still, I'd like people to try as much as possible to stick to the format used here. Notice, for instance, that it's "Count Ludwig" - with "Count" capitalized - but, later, it's "the count" in lower case.

    Yes, yes, I know there are plenty of exceptions. To give one example, a king addressed directly would be "Your Majesty." Slavishly following the rules, you'd expect someone referring to him somewhere else to use "his majesty" in lower case. But, that would just look odd (at least to people accustomed to normal English usage.)

    I'm not going to have conniptions if people break "the rules" regarding capitalization here and there - PROVIDED you are consistent in the way you break them. What drives me nuts - and creates a lot of work for me - are sloppy writers who pay no attention to their own usage. What I mean is that they might have it "the king" in one sentence and then - a sentence later! - have it "the King."

    Here's what is REALLY important: Whatever mistaken usage you make, puh-leese try to be consistent about it. If I find that someone has incorrectly used "the King" throughout a story, it's no big deal. I can just change that to "the king" with a quick global search-and-replace. But if you're all over the map in your own usage, then I have to (mutter) correct each and every instance manually, one at a time.

    (I will add, by the way - picture ursus shaking a furry fist at a certain wretchit monkey to the south - that the all-time Champion Can't-Keep-His-Own-Rules-Straight is Dave Freer. I once pointed out to him - none too charitably, lemme tell you - that he once managed to capitalize or spell THE SAME WORD four different ways in two paragraphs. It was truly breath-taking. Unfortunately, all the breath being taken away was from poor ursus, panting as he labored to correct this grotesque mishmash of stylistic usage.)

  • [8] This is how a line break should be indicated: three asterisks *** without spaces, centered on the page using the CENTER function in the word processor with a blank line above and below the asterisks. A line break is fiction editing speak for something that is more than a paragraph break, but something less than a new section with a subtitle. Line breaks generally indicate the passage of substantial amounts of time, major changes in point of view or both

  • [9]Here are some examples of the correct way to use dates. "1633" is fine used as a number - it would be silly to spell it out - but "twentieth century" is spelled out. It is not "20th century." Notice also, in the middle of the paragraph, that it's "fifty years" not "50 years."

    As I said in the guidelines, the rules are somewhat different for factual articles. SOMEWHAT different - don't go crazy on me about it, those of you writing factual articles.

    The reason for the rule is this: Constantly switching the reader from letters to numbers is tiring. Consider the following two sentences:

    Back when I was 23 years old, I used to walk at least 8 miles a day, but now I'm lucky if I can manage 2.
    Back when I was twenty-three years old, I used to walk at least eight miles a day, but now I'm lucky if I can manage two.

    Which sentence seems to read a little jerkily? The one with all the numbers stuck in it, right?

    Avoid using numbers whenever possible. SPELL IT OUT, except when the result would be a little grotesque. (As in "sixteen-thirty-three.")

    The reason the rules are relaxed in a factual article is because factual articles (for a magazine like this one, which takes up a lot of scientific and technical issues) often involve a fair amount of math, and readers expect to run across numbers in such an article.

    That's the reason that dates like "1633" aren't a problem, either, by the way - people expectdates to be written that way. But they don't expect to be breezily reading along in a story and suddenly have the character say something like "you've now said the same thing 4 times in 2 minutes." This is true, even in a factual article. In general in a factual article use numbers as words when they are words, and numbers as numbers when they are numbers.

    Four centuries might pass before the dielectric constant of free space was found to be 8.55 x 10^-12.

    When in doubt, ask the editors.

  • [10]Again, the same point. (I'm gonna beat this one to death, because it is one of THE most common errors and it drives me nuts because EVERY such error has to be manually corrected, one at a time.)

    Don't believe me? Consider how STUPID the same material reads as follows:

    Ed glanced down toward the floor as the conscientious young man at the chalkboard, using his 1 good arm, quickly wrote the page reference for the audience to follow along. Jonas Justinus Muselius had been in Grantville for almost the whole 2 years since the Ring of Fire and had a pretty swift head and hand when it came to getting around in 3 languages at once.
  • [11]Again, the same point - but now, from the other side. It is perfectly reasonable and correct to use numbers for "all 1,285 of them" and "page 123." Spelling out numbers that long would be cumbersome at best. But - BUT - there are usually very few numbers like that in a fiction story. If any. There is NO EXCUSE for not spelling out numbers like "twenty-two" or "fifty."

Okay. Enough. The short passage quoted above doesn't illustrate all the rules, but it does illustrate most of the really common errors. I'll look for other examples as we go along if it becomes apparent that people are confused about something else.