Monday, January 16, 2006

I Want My M S Word

After a long weekend of final touches, web design, and testing it is finally done. My first e-book is done. It is on sale at the R.M.T.P. Co. Bookstore. It is a scary short stories collection. It will be the first of what will be many books to come in the future. Some will be published by R.M.T.P. Co., and many will be produced by traditional print (hardcopy book) publishers.

Let me tell you a little bit about what goes into making your own book. First you have to have the stories to pick from. You chose the ones you want to include, maybe along a theme, maybe according to a style held between them, or maybe just the cream of the current crop. Next comes the job of re-reading them, making changes to the grammatical structure sometimes, changing a word here or there to something stronger, and general polishing. For a while it seems as if the fixes will never end. As time passes your writing voice changes, your preferences in handling things like dreaded commas changes.

It is a step you can revisit as needed, sometimes things like mistakes slip through, and other times another look ends in a different feeling about how you've phrased something. Once you're satisfied its done, for good or for the moment, then its time to fix up the formatting. The formatting is totally dependant upon the program you're using. My preference is Microsoft Word and there are two reasons why I hold it above the rest. The first reason is the ability to change the paper-size. I have EasyOffice and OpenOffice and neither supports it, though admittedly I just installed OpenOffice very recently. The other function, and this goes back to the polishing step, is the Grammar Check. The Grammar Check sees all. I used to complain it saw too many things I considered incorrect, but working without it makes me regret every complaint.

The formatting needed for the book comes in a few steps. You have to set your margins and borders on the page, determine and set a good looking indent length for your paragraphs, and set up your paragraphs in the proper manner. For Microsoft Word the paragraphs are a single code and based upon a “style”. In EasyOffice the paragraph is made up of the paragraph style and a separate indent code. No matter which program you use it seems that there will always be extra spaces in your document. They tend to congregate at the end of paragraphs. One space is no problem generally, two can lead to problems. What they do is cause unnecessary blank lines to appear. Sometimes an extra line will also appear in the middle of a paragraph because of the length of one of the lines. These all need to be sorted out after everything else is set.

Then comes the fun part. You have to set the justification. Here on the web nearly everything is left justified, that creates the “ragged” edge on the right side of the screen where each line can be a different length. Setting the page to full justify results in pages that are smooth along the edges. This is done by adding in more space between each word on a line. Sometimes it can look really obvious and that's when you have to turn on the hyphenation bit of the software. EasyOffice completely lacks this function, hence my getting OpenOffice and finding that thankfully it had it. However it's hyphenation isn't totally automatic and lacks some additional functionality that Word has. It takes the long words that normally get pushed to the next line and splits them like, well like, words are split in all manner of books.

Why am I not using Word? I had Word 97 as a part of Office 97. It was on another computer. I don't know how compatible it is with Windows XP, and the CD seems to have wandered off. I hadn't had to reinstall it since oh maybe prior to 2000. I've moved, and perhaps its still in storage somewhere. I haven't seen it and its not with my other software. Anyway, more next time...

Mood: giddy.
Music: Prowler (Soundhouse Tapes version) by Iron Maiden and Runaway by Del Shannon.

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