Short Story Format, Pg. 3

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An earlier version of this article was reprinted in Writers Write: The Internet Writing Journal, December 1998

                                               Shunn / Format / 3

if it is relevant.  If you belong to the Science Fiction and

Fantasy Writers of America, for instance, you would want to

mention that when submitting to Asimov’s or Realms of Fantasy,

but it probably wouldn’t cut much ice with the editors at The New

Yorker or Cat Fancy.

     In the upper right corner of the first page, place an

approximate word count.  Round to the nearest hundred words

unless you’re edging up into novella length, at which point

rounding to the nearest 500 would be appropriate.  The point of a

word count is not to tell the editor exactly how many words there

are in the manuscript, but rather how much space your story will

take up in print.  If your word processing software doesn’t give

you a word count, you can estimate the total by counting the
number of words on one page and multiplying by the number of

pages in the manuscript.

     Though many sources say you should, it is not necessary to

place your Social Security number anywhere on your manuscript.

If the publisher wants to know it, you’ll be asked for it after

your story is accepted.  Otherwise, it’s extraneous--and in fact


     Place the title of your story one third to one half of the

way down the first page.  The editor needs all that empty space

for writing notes to the typesetter and copy editor.  Your title

should be centered between the margins.  Many writers type the

title in all capitals, and you can too if you like, though it’s

not necessary.

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Now go ahead and study a sample excerpt from a novel manuscript.
What similarities do you notice? What differences?

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