Why You Should Create a Clean Manuscript

formatting mark

Formatting Mark

As you know, Writers’ Dream Coach is about supporting writers and authors. It’s mostly about mindset, but this year, I am expanding into hands-on craft. And I will write about all those pesky emotions coming up when talking craft.

Craft and emotions…

Now, as authors, we should do our work with the final end product in mind. And our final product are books. We want them to look good and read well.

Most of that is the actual writing, the creation of content, of your story. You’re working on that, I know. And that’s awesome and important.

The other part, however, is craft, and that’s often more difficult. Because it involves tech, and trust me, I know a lot of authors who hate tech with a passion. We’re creatives, after all!

And we can have a lot of resistance to hearing and learning about tech, and we have to drag ourselves to it, and yet… learning that tech and making it a habit will make your life so much easier. I promise that few tweaks on how you use all that awesome tech we now have available for writing and publishing will make a huge difference. And I will teach you.

Let’s start with the most fundamental part of the writing craft: the clean manuscript.

What do I mean by “clean manuscript”?

In these days, we authors work with electronic files. And you might be surprised that your writing file on your computer contains more than just letters – they are characters to mark certain parts of your file, like spaces, paragraph endings, page breaks etc.

There’s an actual setting to make them visible. I’ll show that in my video. I’ll also explain why I favor LibreOffice as word processor, but you will find the same icon in Word, as well.


Anyway, once you see all those formatting marks, you can make sure you have the bare minimum of them in your file, precisely only those you truly need. Because they can totally screw up the formatting for print and ebooks if they appear in the wrong place. So keep them visible while you write, even if that means having to get used to them.

Yes, I know.

You love writing in a file that looks like it’s a book. It inspires you, and you hate those formatting marks. I get it. Do what works for you, but definitely turn them on once you edit – and then take care of any of those marks running around wild where they don’t belong.

You also should use the program settings for indenting, for page breaks etc (videos are coming for that). Because that makes creating print and ebook files much easier, either for yourself or for the people you pay to format your books. And since some of those people get paid by the hour, saving their time will save you money.

Yup. We’re also businesspeople, and saving money is a good motivator.

And yet… I can sense your resistance.

I can hear you say: “But Frauke, I’ve always done it this way, and it just feels right.”

And I get that. I’m still writing my manuscripts in Courier 12pt, doublespaced (yes, Shunn style), because that’s how I started out and that’s what feels right. I actually know roughly how many pages in my word processor equal how many words. It’s comfortable writing that way. But I do have my formatting marks visible.

The truth is, we’re creatives, but we are also businesspeople. As soon as we finish a story and move into editing, we need to think of our business.

A clean manuscript is a business asset.

It’s that simple.

It’s a mindset thing, and it’s best to embrace all the wonderful things modern tech offers to make our author life easier.

And you know how I shift mindset issues, right?

Tapping Suggestions

Even though I hate having those formatting marks visible, they look alien and ugly, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to wear my business  hat and learn about these things.

Even though I hate, hate, hate those marks, they are so ugly and they totally stop me being creative, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to see these marks as reminders that I am a writer and a businessperson, and that I want to be a successful author.

Even though I can’t be creative with these ugly things in my manuscript, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to take advantage of all this amazing technology and embrace the new manuscript style on my path to being a professional author.

Your Turn:
Did you know about those formatting marks?
Have you used them to create a clean manuscript?
How do you feel about the idea of a clean manuscript?
Help to inspire others and share in a comment!

Part 2: How to Indent and Add a Page Break for a Clean Manuscript
Part 3: The Pitfalls of Quotation Marks in a Manuscript
Part 4: The Power of Styles

*Image source: F. Moebius

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PPS: I can help you overcome mindset blocks and emotions like resistance. EFT is the fastest way I know to shift limiting beliefs, old thought habits and other kinds of blocks. Click HERE and send me an email. Together, we’ll figure out how I can support you best.

About fmoebius

I'm a writer and coach. I love helping writers be more creative, more productive and more profitable. With EFT, life gets easier. Blocks can fall away. Limiting beliefs just shift. You can build your dream life. Let me help you do this.
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