Post #25 – Spaces

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6/14/18

How many spaces should follow the end of a sentence, one or two? I grew up using, and continue to use, two spaces. I’ve read several articles claiming one space now is the norm. The are two arguments for this.

First, we, as a society, have gotten away from using monospaced fonts. When every character takes up the same amount of space, including a period, like in a monospaced font, it’s easier to differentiate between two sentences with two spaces at the end. Most print does not use monospaced formats any more.

The second argument states people read most content online now in shorter bursts, so one way to save space (no pun intended) is to eliminate a space after each sentence. Supposedly, the formatting is better online when there’s only one space.

It’s true monospaced fonts are not the norm in the writing I see every day, and I know nothing about online formatting. Still, I still don’t buy it. For starters, many of the submission guidelines I read want a story to be in a monospaced format like Courier. If that is a requirement, then it follows two spaces to end a sentence should be required.

Not even that argument addresses the main reason, at least for me, to use two spaces. That is to eliminate confusion. It doesn’t happen often, but what if a sentence ends in an acronym with periods? With only one space after that sentence, a reader won’t know a new sentence started. The more immediate reaction is there is a typo. For example:

“The regulation finally was passed by the members of the E.U. When the matter first appeared, the initial response was appeasement.”

Putting aside the passive voice, which is prevalent in everyday writing, my initial reaction would be the capitalized “w” is a typo. A reader doesn’t know otherwise until finishing the sentence. By then the reader is confused, and the flow of the story is broken.

Most submission guidelines and the standard manuscript formats cited therein say it doesn’t matter whether one or two spaces separate sentences. However, I know of one Australian market’s guidelines requiring one space. I’m planning to test Word’s find and replace function the learn if it can remove a space after each sentence. Since I’m a two spacer, all my manuscripts don’t comply, and I don’t plan to take the time to remove those spaces for this one market.

Because I want to deny I’m getting older and out of touch, I’ve experimented with training myself to use only one space when typing these blog entries. (You may have noticed.) It hasn’t gone well. I regularly must go back through an entry and make the number of spaces consistent, usually using the number of spaces most prevalent. Not to discount the wise sage Yoda, but it’s hard to unlearn what you have learned.

Now there is scientific proof that two spaces are better than one! According to renowned (or not) Washington Post Magazine humor (or slightly funny) columnist Gene Weingarten, a Skidmore College experiment found two spaces after a sentence enhances clarity and makes reading easier and faster.  That’s enough for me.

Let me know your thoughts on the great space debate.

Photo credit: LUM3N via Pixabay

Post #22 – Finding Inspiration 2

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5/24/18

In Post #19, I lamented how I’d run out of ideas for short stories. In Post #20, I explained where I planned to find inspiration for new ideas but failed to address two important sources – my current writing projects and calls for submissions.

I think one of the reasons I have not had any new story ideas is because I haven’t written as much lately. I find when I’m writing one story, other stories often pop into my head. Sometimes these new story ideas are sequels to what I’m currency working on. Other times, it’s a completely new idea. Creativity spawns creativity. That’s certainly a motivating factor to get back to writing more.

Another frequent source of inspiration are calls for submissions. I’ve written three short stories specifically crafted to satisfy a call for submissions. One was a very general call for humorous speculative fiction. Up to that point, I had not written a funny story; so I wanted to take on the challenge. I came up with a 2000 word sci-fi story that incorporated dad jokes.  Feel free to cringe.

Another call for an anthology asked for fantasy stories with female leads and stated the anthology always ended with a short humorous story. Having tackled humor once before as noted above, I again tried my hand at it. I like the added challenge of crafting a fantasy story, a genre I hadn’t tried yet. This time I came up with a 2300 word story loosely based on a pun involving a well-known evil mythical creature.

The third time involved a ridiculously specific call from Uncanny Magazine. The full call is here. In sum, it involves a mysterious corporation, since vanished, that created a portal to other worlds and times on three interlinked tropical islands. Oh, and the islands are inhabited by dinosaurs. This time I ended up with a 3100 word story, which again was written to be humorous.  (I’m beginning to see a trend here.)

The results were mixed.  I enjoyed writing all three, and my beta readers all thought the stories were funny. That was heartening. Unfortunately, all three were rejected by their intended markets. That was disheartening. Regardless, I’ve continued to submit these three stories to other markets.

I realized, though, each time I read one of these calls for submissions I immediately started crafting a story in my head.  Why not do that more often?  Authors Publish releases a list of markets with themed calls about once a month. I’ve had to stop myself from going down the rabbit hole of thinking I can craft something by the deadline, which all too often is too soon for me to realistically draft something. I’m now contemplating the opposite. Why not let my imagine be spurred by these calls? Even if I don’t make the deadline, I’ll eventually have a story for submission elsewhere. It’s the inspiration that I need.

One call I recently came across that got the imagination going was from FurPlanet with a theme of The Rabbit Dies First. The call asks for anthropomorphic tales “centered around two concepts: the rabbit is going to die, and someone else is next.” How about that for stirring the imagination pot?

Let me know in the comments where you find inspiration for your writing.

Photo credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay