A Rant about Standard Manuscript Format

So, the other day I submitted a story to a magazine. The guidelines stated: use Standard Manuscript Format. Cool. As an editor I accept the need for a Standard Format, but as a writer the term has become nebulous. We have gone to the panels. We have read the “RULES.” Read the guidelines they all say. Follow them. And always, most prominent among those rules, follow Standard Manuscript Format with an accompanying example…from 30 years ago.

Underline italics. Use actual italics.

Use Courier. Use Times New Roman.

Use 10 point, 11 point, 12 point.

Double space after punctuation. Single space after punctuation.

The dreaded double space after paragraphs.

And in so many cases editors and publications declare their version is the only true standard version, then with a straight face, “But it’s the story that matters.”


If the story matters that much, then Standard Format doesn’t and should be left out of the guidelines.

But that will never happen. There is nothing more conservative than publishing. So what is the answer? If only there was an organization that could actually standardize a manuscript format, at least for the speculative genre. Hmm…

Oh, wait!

There is. The Science Fiction Writers of America. So, I checked. And they do!

It’s ten years old.

So, here is my challenge to SFWA. You are in a perfect position to gather information. Send out questionnaires. Quiz editors, publications, writers. Create a Standard Manuscript Format that is actually a modern Standard Manuscript Format. Then promote it. Encourage it. Enforce it.

Give us a single version of the Standard Manuscript Format instead of the multiple versions we all ignore now.



CanCon 2018

I had a great time at this year’s CanCon, but then I always have a great time there. This convention is run extremely well, with great panels and a robust dealer’s room. The other great thing about CanCon or any convention is meeting people. This weekend I met Renée Gendron an aspiring writer who has started a blog on the craft of writing. If you’re interested, especially if you are an emerging writer, then give it a read. You can find it here at reneegendron.com/word-crafting.





The Days That Remain Are Three!

Then did he raise on high the Aurora Award Book Bundle saying, “Bless this Book Bundle, with its many and varied words, that the people may read and be enlightened, in thy mercy.” And the people did rejoice and did e-read books, adjusting text to their personal preference while commuting to work and stuff…

Now did the Lord say, “First thou must goeth online. The days that remain are three. Three is the number of the days remaining, as the days remaining are three. Four days have past, two days yet to come, as the days are three. Five is long gone. As there are three days remaining, the number of days left being three, purchase the Aurora Award Book Bundle here: https://storybundle.com/aurora and join the others who have done so and enjoy.




I was caught
Without a good book to read

I looked around
But my ereader was empty

My mind raced
And I thought what could I do

And I knew
Book Bundles was the way to go

Science Fiction!
Fantasy too!
Chilling Horror!
For 15 Bucks!

I’ve been



What a Wonderful Deal

I see Terrence Green, Van Belkom, too
I see books for me, and books for you
And I think to myself what a wonderful deal.

I see Sean Stewart and Robert J. Sawyer
Hayden Trenholm and Mike Rimar
And I think to myself what a wonderful deal

The Aurora Award Book Bundle
The best in Canadian Sci-Fi
Horror and Fantasy are also there too
Everything for me and for you

Read Derryl Murphy and Michael Rowe
Read Bedwell-Grime and S. M. Beiko
And think to yourself what a wonderful deal
Yes, think to yourself what a wonderful deal.