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Use your computer like a typewriter: Editor's Notes #231
March 15, 2017

I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized,
and I still had a daughter who I adored,
and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.

--J. K. Rowling

In this issue:

1. Use your computer like a typewriter
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. Use your computer like a typewriter
Recently I've told clients both to use a computer like a typewriter and not to use a computer like a typewriter, proving that there's a time and place for almost everything.

Today, I’ll tell you why I want writers to use computers like typewriters.

As a review for the older ones reading this and an introduction for the wee ones, here is what you can do with a typewriter:
You can set margins.
You can set tabs.
You can type capital and lower case letters, numerals, and a few other characters, all in one font.
You can underline text.
You can type in black, and with the right ribbon, also in red.
You can choose when to make a line break.
Your work will be left justified, which means the left line will be straight, and the right line will be ragged.

Editors and publishers want you to use your computer like a typewriter in the way a typewriter gives a simple text. Editors and publishers don't care about which font you want your book in in its final style. We don't want to look at bold text, centred text, or colored text.

We want to see and think about your words. Period.

When your words are perfect, each like a sparkling jewel in a perfect setting, a publisher will choose a paper weight, color, and size; choose a font; choose how to format the pages; and make a multitude of other decisions, most of which you will not be in on at all.

So, the time you spend on those factors is all wasted time. Worse, decorating your text as if you are engaged in desktop publishing sometimes creates confusing extra work for editors and publishers who have to reverse engineer what you've done so your work will look professional in the end.

As an editor, I want your words and nothing else, and I want them in the easiest form to read. That means using a common serif font like Times or Times New Roman in 12 point and double-spaced in black. That means using left justification. That means the same margins throughout the text unless you are creating a block quote. That means starting a new chapter on a new page.

I want you to wow me with your words.

In the next issue, I'll tell you when I wish my clients were not using their computers like typewriters.


2.Tickled my funnybone
I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.


3. Interesting Web site
I'm not suggesting that you rush out and buy a computer, but here is a group of writers who do not use modern technology to produce their highly successful works.

4. Writing prompt
Your writing prompt this time is simply the word typewriter. Let it take you where it will.

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