Thursday, December 22, 2011

I prefer to write books -- not just words

For much of the 20th Century, writers composed their masterpieces on 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of paper. Later they used word processing software that emulated the same shape on a PC monitor.

Also traditionally, most authors have a specific word-count in mind, such as 70,000 words, as they write their books.

But when I'm working on a book that I will be publishing, I usually have a specific page-count and price in mind, such as 350 pages/$15.95.

And rather than just spray words onto my monitor, I set up MS Word for the actual page size of my book (such as 6 x 9 inches for a paperback) and correct margins, and start writing a book.

left-click to enlarge

By viewing actual pages, it's much easier to judge my progress, and to know if chapters should be chopped or stretched or shifted.

I alway insert a temporary left-hand "page zero" ahead of the real right-hand "page one" so I can view pages as realistic two-page spreads, instead of onesies, or with left-right-reversals.

This is not very important if a book is all-text, but if you have photos or illustrations or tables, it's important to view the spreads as your readers will see them, to avoid graphic disasters.

Viewing two-page spreads on a modern wide-screen monitor makes it easy to judge when illustrations should be enlarged, reduced or moved around; and to eliminate widows and orphans, and to see if a chapter needs to be trimmed to end at the bottom of a page.


1 comment:

  1. What an excellent idea! Many thanks. The only problem is that I do not know, nor can I find in the documentation, how to configure Word for the actual page size. If you would care to share the method I would be grateful.

    Duvid Meir