In a paperless work environment, with my creative writing, my word processor of choice is Word.
Up until two weeks ago, that meant Word 2000 at home and 2003 when I was working. With this new machine, the version is 2010, a modernised interface that I am learning, trying to decide if the format is an improvement over the old. If one uses Word for work that incorporates imagery, it is an improvement. For a writer, all I need is a write screen, and the ability to set type and configure the document style. For me, it is a repackaging of tools already in existence.
What has changed for me is not the Word update, it is my update. It used to be I set font to Times New Roman, a font that works well in blogging and a work environment, but not so much for packaging fiction that might eventually be placed in front of an agent and editor.
I set out to look about the ‘net for information on structure, and found that in submission, what works for me in appearance, things like justifying lines, is not acceptable to folks who review submissions. Nor is lack of indenting the first line of a paragraph, and Times New Roman font, while lines should be double spaced.
This information set me to experimentation, the result of which was a change of font to Garamond 14 point. It is lighter on each character, and far easier to read. I keep the line justification for now, and set line spacing at 1.5 rather than a full double space, and indented the first line of paragraphs. I did not go the full way, as others read elements as I enter them, and wish to keep some sense of aesthetics. When the time comes, when I am satisfied with a story that I wish to submit, then the formatting will be corrected. For now, I go with what works for me and others. I like the change, and like how it all can be altered with but a couple of clicks of a mouse.
Format was not something I gave much thought to, beyond a basic ‘this looks good. It is nice to move forward, to have awareness of what is acceptable, to format with future alterations in mind.