Hello, I’m emailing you with a few questions on writing. I’m a big fan of your books/blog and notice that you sometimes answer these questions. I understand if you’re busy and don’t have the time. I just figured I’d ask. The first question is in regard to characters. I just wondered if you do a full character profile before you start writing? If so, what does that look like? If not what do you do instead?
We don’t do any character profiles. Ever. 🙂 We don’t do anything with characters, we just start writing. After a few books, a series bible is very helpful, because over the years we tend to forget details, but it’s mostly a collection of height, weight, hair color type of thing. If a character profile helps you, do it however makes you happy. There are no rules, only what works for you.
My second question is in regard to grammar and punctuation. Recently an editor friend of mine vented on social media. She doesn’t edit books or anything just for professional documents, correspondence etc. She was saying how she wishes people would stop putting two spaces after periods because they always have to edit them out. I was shocked to learn that people were supposed to have stopped doing this years ago. I also managed to graduate college, in 2012, without knowing this. I feel like I still see a lot of people doing this, English teachers included. I just wondered if this is a no no in the publishing world and what the standards are there. Thanks for your time! Again, I understand that you may not be able to answer my questions.
What kind of editor doesn’t understand the Search and Replace feature of MS Word? It takes approximately 2 seconds to fix the two spaces after the period. A copy editor’s job is to proofread the document, including bringing it into compliance with the proper format. This is literally what they are paid for.
First, having two spaces after the period isn’t going to stop your manuscript from being published, if it’s good. 🙂
Second, if you are worried, once you finished with your manuscript, select Replace on the Home tab of MS Word. Click on Find What form field. Hit Space twice. Click on the Replace form field. Hit Space once. Click Replace. I would do it a couple of times until it tells you no replacements were made. Like I said, 2 seconds.