Formatting text in interesting shapes | Proper Manuscript Format | William Shunn
          

Formatting text in interesting shapes

A reader writes to ask:

Do you have any direction to point me in formatting elaborate typesets in manuscript. i.e. I have a sex scene written in the shape of a penis. Any help?

An interesting question, and one that must have been encountered before by editors of books like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. My gut says you could go one of two ways, depending on how ambitious you are. The first way would be simply to indent the priapic passage as a block of text, draw a line next to it down the left side, and write in the margin a note like "set in penis shape." You could even draw the desired shape in the margin in miniature, if you're not afraid of sending the wrong message to the typesetter.

The second, more ambitious way would be to center the text and try to fashion the penis-shape yourself, painstakingly, with hard (no pun) returns and extra spaces to make everything line up right on both side. (Maybe you'd want to practice that first on a bathroom wall.)

Those are just my best stabs at how I would do it. Any professional editors, typesetters, or book designers out there want to weigh in?  

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