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First Complete Attempt at a Novel

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Many years ago, I wrote a couple of novel length stories.  They have set in a drawer and on disc all this time.  I have fiddled with it, but just recently found a video tutorial on typesetting a novel in Scribus, so I gave the better of the two a go.

[Edit]I've changed fonts twice now, and I think I am done.  I found a wonderful interpretation of Caslon called Caslon OS.  It required a little more leading, but I love the overall page tone and readability.


I've not read it properly but a quick skim over various pages shows a good job done with the typesetting.

I have a few - mostly petty - issues that you might want to think about. There are examples of each on page 5 (actual numbered page 5, not the page number the PDF viewer gives it).

1. Hyphens: (Paragraph 3) With things like "out-of-focus" and "lady-of-the-evening" it's more usual to have no space between the words and the hyphens. Having the spaces in there makes it a little confusing and it looks a little like a multiple aside. (And, to be even more petty, I'm not sure that "lady of the evening" needs hyphens. I'd say it was more of an "in quotes" thing as you're really using a euphemism. I could be wrong though.)

2. Quotes: (Paragraphs 4 and 5, for example) I don't know if it's deliberate but you seem to have a mix of quote types. The text starts with an upright double quote but ends with a double inverted comma. It might be an issue with your font or where you imported the text from but it's usual to have the same type of quote at both ends of the text. I doubt the average reader will notice but, for picky people like me, it can be a tiny bit annoying. You can find a good selection of quotes from the "Insert -> Quotes" menu. (You can create some shortcut keys to make them more easily available.)

3. Ellipses: (Last full paragraph) It's more usual to use an ellipsis when the speaker has trailed off without saying any more and to use an em dash to show that the speaker has been interrupted - which is what I think you are doing. (I can't show what I mean here as there's no em dash in this text editor but you can get the em dash from the "Insert -> Character" menu.)

None of the stuff I've mentioned above is particularly important to the average reader. Most people probably won't notice but if you're going to get into typography in a more hardcore way then there are all sorts of little rules and guidelines that you would benefit from learning.

If you - or anyone else reading this - want to learn more about this sort of thing I can thoroughly recommend a book called "New Hart's Rules" by Oxford University Press (ISBN: 0-19-861041-6). When I got my copy in 2005 (there's probably a newer edition by now) it cost less than £13 and it's got more information and tips on preparing copy for publication than you can shake a stick at. It's not just for British publications either but it only really covers languages that share similarities with English (US conventions are covered pretty extensively).

Anyway, your book looks great. Feel free to ignore what I've said above, most people won't be as picky as me.

That is all great stuff, Garry.  I truly appreciate any quality critique I can get.  The odd quotes are a dilemma for sure.  I will have to see what I can do to rectify that situation.  This piece of work never did go through a final revision.  There is so much editing to do.  My goal on this, was to actually hone my typesetting skills with a body of text that was long enough.  I'm thrilled you think it looks good as a typesetting project, but there is so much to learn.  Your book suggestion sounds perfect.  On Amazon, it looks like a newer edition was published in 2014.  I can get it used for 10 bucks.  I do believe I will give it a go.

Thank you, sir.

You're welcome.

I'm no expert in this area but it looks good to me. A real expert will most probably still have issues with it but that's all part of the learning experience.

I did a quick visual scan over a few more pages and unfortunately the upright quotes aren't just at the start of sentences so a quick find-replace won't fix the problem. Maybe there's something you could do in the original text but you would have to re-import the text and destroy all your work so that's not a good option. I can remember using a bit of software some time ago that had a "fix quotes" function but, unfortunately, I can't remember what it was. (LibreOffice can automatically do this but I don't know how well the output imports into Scribus.)

I hope the book helps. It's not about typesetting, as such, but it will help you to get the text to a good standard before the typesetting phase - which should always be near the end of a project like this anyway. Good luck.

I looked at different options to try and automate replacing the quotes, but nothing seemed feasible, so I just started slogging through it the hard way.  I did set up key combinations to expedite some, but it's one quote at a time, and with that much text, it really creeps - even with six gigs of ram.  I've also been correcting incorrect dashes and replacing misused ellipses with em dashes and so forth.  Going slow but I'm on page 103!!

Once I get all this in place, I'll attack spelling and bad story/sentence structure.  It's about time this thing got a good edit.  I wrote it like 16 to 18 years ago!


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