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Writing Fiction, literature and Large blocks of text for the Internet

Have you always wanted to write a novel? If your have then the time has come to put pen to paper, or byte to RAM and actually tell it to the world.

Unless you don't keep up with the trends, and as your on the Internet that probably not you anyway, then you will already be aware of Stephens Kings decision to write his latest novella in the electronic format. To me this was no surprise; in fact I was far more surprised that nobody had done it before.

His only mistake may be in the timing. Is the world quite ready for a monitor and a television at the bottom of the bed?

If its not, it very soon will be with the rush to produce more functional and user friendly palm sized computers, and when they become commonplace, every single author on the planet will have access to an audience of billions.

So what do you do? Type out fifty thousand words and that's it!!!! You're suddenly a published author?

Well not quite"

Imagination, creativity and being able to hold together a jolly good plot are only part of the real story. Transferring that document onto a webpage requires a set of completely different skills. None are complicated or hard to master, but for the novice many frustrating hours can be wasted learning the pitfalls.

In this article I hope to pass on some of what we have learned in

creating the caelin day websites to hopefully make this part of the

publishing process easier.

The very first thing any reader will see is how you present your work, and using poor grammar or misspelled words, especially on a 'writers' site immediately presents you to the visitor as being unprofessional. They don't know you, and if their first impression is that you can't spell then their second thought will probably be to click away.

Though in reality precisely correct spelling is impossible in a worldwide context. For example American English can be different from the British style both in written and spoken form, and even the best spell checking software can "misread (mis'red? Mis'reed?)" an intention. Check to ensure that the words chosen convey the intended meaning by asking someone else to read the work after it has been spell checked, and to look for words that may infer entirely different things from place to place, culture to culture.

New eyes to your page will be extremely sensitive to the way you display your words. Inappropriate, conflicting, font type, colour, and size will immediately give an impression of a less than professional page.

Unless it's relevant or to emphasise something, don't use 'fancy scripts', remember that different browsers support different fonts and less than the desired effect could be shown to your reader if their machine doesn't have the same text format as yours.

The same goes for colours of font. Be sparing on the use of coloured text and never use contrasts such as yellow on white, as most eyes can barely read several sentences trying to differentiate the letters. A good contrast should always exist between the letters and the background.

I believe prose text looks better when left biased, and

centred text kept for works in the poem form, or when needed for effect.

Neither should the sentences be justified, as s t r e t c h i n g o u t is at odds with our mental concept of the written word.

Great wads of text can look daunting and much use should be made of 'white space', so unless two paragraphs need to be closed together leave a single line between them. Two or three if changing scene, or pace, though avoid using 'double spaced' text as this will require constant scrolling.

Most fiction relies heavily on the spoken interaction between characters, but never let two different 'voices' occupy the same line.

If the viewer is browsing with an older, smaller pixel size screen, they may find it necessary to scroll sideways. To avoid sentences running on past the right side of the scree I find it preferable to place the text within a 'table'. This will limit the width, and it also allows 'white space' to the left margin, which looks far more balanced.

Something that should always be remembered is that that HTML is a "dynamic language" consequently the scripts and colours that look terrific on your own computer, in your particular type of browser, set with your preferences may look like a surrealist dream on someone else's monitor. If you can, download other browsers to your desktop and view older versions of each, since some people are still using these.

About the Author

John Stevenson is administrator of the and literary websites
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