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Modern Manuscript Format
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Shunn / Format / 5
If you want a scene break to appear in your story, center the symbol “#” on a line by itself. Don’t just leave the line blank. As you edit and revise your manuscript prior to submission, those breaks can shift up or down, and word processors often hide blank lines that fall at the top or bottom of a page. You don’t want your editor skipping over your scene breaks because they accidentally vanished. Finally, though you don’t need to make any explicit indication that your story is over, some writers choose to center the word “END” after the last line of text. This can prevent ambiguity when your closing words fall near the bottom of the page. That’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to submit that story! Or are you? This is a good time to read through it at least once more, checking carefully for typos. One or two errors won’t earn you an automatic rejection, but you’ll make a better impression if your first few pages are as clean as possible. And if you’re planning to mail a hard copy, remember to use plain white paper and print on only one side of the page.
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While you’ll find some variation in the ways different writers format their manuscripts, no one departs far from what I’ve outlined above. Still, you should always check a market’s submission guidelines before sending your work. If their rules differ from these, follow theirs. At the very least, these suggestions will guarantee your work looks professional when it arrives. How the story itself comes across is an entirely separate matter—and that part’s all up to you. Knock ’em dead!
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Last updated 17 March 2020


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