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Formatting Your Stories

JackDamaniac

New Member
For those that are writing how do you format your stories for the site? While I personally put everything into .pdf for personal taste I'm not sure if that is the most popular format here. I think it might be that you have to download .pdf and .rtf so a lot of people may avoid that.

I say this as my most popular story has about 220+ views and was in .txt format while two of my other stories that I thought were much better have just shy of 100. I had those two in .pdf and .rtf.

What I have done on my last two stories is use some free stock phone pictures and add the story title and a few of the main kinks to it. I'm not sure if that draws more eyeballs or not.

Finally, what keywords are you using for search? I think I may have messed up my keywords for a few of the stories and failed to get readers.
 

TyraWadman

The Silent Observer
I like pdfs but most people seem to be weary if they can't read it on site.

The only problem I've had with pdfs is that I sometimes include images, but I guess pdf has this weird setting where it might not keep the same resolution (or sizeing) you had in the original document- meaning sone of the words/images go off the page.

From what I understand each person would have to manually adjust their pdf settings to avoid this, thus creating more problems for future readers. DX
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
I always use .pdf, even if that means I don't get full readership. I know some people were not wanting to download a .pdf, most likely because they were reading the stories from school or work and didn't want to leave a file behind.

I like a .pdf because you will read my story the way I wanted it to look and feel. I always imbed the font I was using so the format is correct. I tried .txt for the first story I ever posted, left my works a sorry, unformatted mess. M$ .doc or .docx didn't work for me either.
 
S

Sablesword

Guest
I create a text document with BB markup, and in particular use [ center]=O+O+O=[ center] to create centered scene/section breaks.

I compose my stories in Word, and I have macros to take a copy of the story text and reformat it to my on-line BB text preferences: blank lines between paragraphs instead of first-line indent, and BB bold and italic markup, along with the above-mentioned scene break marker. The text gets copied & pasted into a txt document, given any last-minute cleanup needed, and saved under an appropriate name. E.g. Goose Girls BB markup.txt I also create a "thumbnail" - a colored square that gives the story title & my name, and that looks better (IMHO) than the default story icon that FurAffinity provides.

I have other macros for reformatting my stories for DeviantArt, for my personal website and for various other places on the web where I post stories.
 

The_biscuits_532

Eternally Confused Feline
Might start writing at some point - I imagine it'd be decent practice for my course (Literature with Politics). It'd also help me define my characters.

Given most of what I write is nonfiction, if I do do anything for the fandom it's gonna be super long winded and lore-focussed. Love a good bit of world building.

But anyway I'm generally very consistent with my formatting

Word DOCX
Size 11 ±4 for titles/ subtext
Time New Roman
.6mm margins
Double Spaced
Justified Alignment
 

Lycandope

Member
I use plain text BB script so people can read it right on the site. I had complaints about PDFs way back when I first started. I mostly just use bold and italics so I don't need fancy formatting.

I know I have personally avoided stories that are PDFs or DOCs because I don't want the hassle of downloading them to read them.
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
Though I'd love to just simply leave a pdf and call it good, the seeming majority of people won't download it. That much has become abundently clear to me. I'm still trying to figure out the simplest, most straightforward way to put the story directly on the post(s). So far, it's been a frustrating pain in the ass to reformat my work to do this for the audience.
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
One of the things I do not care for when reading a story that's not a .pdf is the damned small font and the white text on black background. White on black is probably the most eye-straining way to post things. I thought at one time you could select black font on white but I'll be damned if I can find the setting to allow that.

As far as downloading a .pdf, you click the link, you have the story in a few seconds. It's not a big thing but like I said before, thee readers that won't read a pdf are probably at school or at work so they don't want to get caught reading a NSFW story when they should be doing something else or leaving a stray file that might be found by others.

Also, BB code is not fully supported by the FA main site. The last time I tried that with a chapter, I ended up with another unholy mess that couldn't be repaired.
 

Punji

Vaskebjørn
I personally always use .txt instead of PDFs, because needing to download a story is annoying and unpleasant at best. Almost everything else on the internet can be read without downloads, why should I expect anything different of my readers?
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
@Punjii I see your point. It has recently become obvious to me that you are among the majority of forums reading public, regarding this preference.

The problem is that my primary writing format is odt and the pdf still seems to be a very useful format for sending off to printers of paper books.

Does txt carry enough information/formatting within its program to import over to a print-ready form for a book/novel? I honestly don't know. If I must do a bunch of editing to convert odt into txt, so it can be easier to show, I'm still repeating steps. Re-editing a 300+ page book, for best free viewing for the public, would be a daunting task to say the least.

It would just be nice not to have to to so much re-reading of, and more editing to, something that looks great in its current, original form.
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
@Punjii I see your point. It has recently become obvious to me that you are among the majority of forums reading public, regarding this preference.

The problem is that my primary writing format is odt and the pdf still seems to be a very useful format for sending off to printers of paper books.

Does txt carry enough information/formatting within its program to import over to a print-ready form for a book/novel? I honestly don't know. If I must do a bunch of editing to convert odt into txt, so it can be easier to show, I'm still repeating steps. Re-editing a 300+ page book, for best free viewing for the public, would be a daunting task to say the least.

It would just be nice not to have to to so much re-reading of, and more editing to, something that looks great in its current, original form.
Well, you can go from .odt to .txt without too much fuss, as long as it's saved as Unicode UTF-8 with Paragraph break CR & LF and include byte-mark order.

To prepare your works for publication, you will need to use a program such as Scribus. It's not a word processor, it's more of a program that helps you lay out your works so it can be published and look somewhat professional. How professional is up to you. BTW, you can use either txt or odt for the format. I can help you if you want to try Scribus.
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
Thanks, Kellen.

I grew up before computers were household items. I was the last class in my high school to not have any computer training offered to them. I only got my first personal computer, an 11 year-old gift from a friend, in late 2005. I have learned things the hard way as I go.

Message sent.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
I use .doc ('97-'03) for backwards compatibility with all my devices for stories I'm still writing and their associated documents like plot outlines, background material, and stream-of-consciousness free writes.

For the finished products, I use .PDF files, but for the work I'd like to publish widely, I'm going to use .epub and .mobi if I self-publish.
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
Thanks, Kellen.

I grew up before computers were household items. I was the last class in my high school to not have any computer training offered to them. I only got my first personal computer, an 11 year-old gift from a friend, in late 2005. I have learned things the hard way as I go.

Message sent.
Actually, the small bit of computer training I received in school came from my community college when I was in high school. One HDD (removable platters) and you worked at a terminal. I took a class on programming, then I hung out with Jobs, Wosniak, Balmer and the gang until I had to enlist in the military. by the time I PCS'd from military life, computers had passed me by. Everything I learned after that came from further college classes and what I learned from the Air Force and messing around with computers myself. First portable computer I worked with was the Compaq original portable, all 30 pounds of it. No HDD, just 2 each 5.25" floppie drives. One for the OS, one for the program. used it for traffic signal coordination.
 

Simo

Professional Watermelon Farmer
I'll have to keep this in mind. I had zero idea people were less prone to reading pdf formats; just posted a story to FA as a pdf, but may go back, and also post it so it can be read without downloading. I just wonder how the formatting will carry over; I write on Open Office.

Also: I hate having to re-do and spent too much time on formatting, when copying a document over...I wonder what horrors await :p

But more readers would always be nice.

Also: I need to create some more enticing looking little icons, to lure people in, but have no idea how...sadly, this skunk is just not at all a computer skunk...or, barely is one!
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
I'll have to keep this in mind. I had zero idea people were less prone to reading pdf formats; just posted a story to FA as a pdf, but may go back, and also post it so it can be read without downloading. I just wonder how the formatting will carry over; I write on Open Office.

Also: I hate having to re-do and spent too much time on formatting, when copying a document over...I wonder what horrors await :p

But more readers would always be nice.

Also: I need to create some more enticing looking little icons, to lure people in, but have no idea how...sadly, this skunk is just not at all a computer skunk...or, barely is one!
I use LibreOffice which is a supported fork of OpenOffice. Open one of your files, then save as, then go to the box that selects format. See if there is a .txt or text, select options or select formatting in the drop down. If so, see if the options allow for CR & LF. You nay have to try to start the save function to see the options. CR is carriage return, that means you hit the return key. LF is line feed, means the cursor went to the next line down. Might be a radio button selection. If you can save in that format, generally enough formatting is preserved to allow you to post as text in the box we usually put some kind of a descriptive blurb.

Let me know if this helps.

And, I'll say this, not meaning to sound dickish about it. If you can't be arsed to read a .pdf, that excuse seems lame to me. On the worst of networks, it's two or three seconds to get a .pdf to download.

I do think it's people at work or at school that are surfing the NSFW reaches of FA and they don't want to leave behind evidence that could end up bad for them if found by IT, etc.

Suppose I'll have to start posting in .txt some day.
 

Lycandope

Member
"And, I'll say this, not meaning to sound dickish about it. If you can't be arsed to read a .pdf, that excuse seems lame to me. On the worst of networks, it's two or three seconds to get a .pdf to download."

The problem with this thinking is that you WANT your readers to read your stories. You're trying to capture their attention. It's your job to get them to read it. So, you can't put the blame on them for skipping the story.

There's a ton of material out there and most are probably browsing around. They might click on your stuff to see what it's about and if they like your style and writing. If they see a PDF or DOC that they have to download to read (and then delete afterwards), it's very, very possible that they'll just skip it and continue browsing to something easier to deal with.

People want convenience and, as authors, we're already losing out to artists with their pictures instantly displayed and able to be visually consumed in seconds.

Unless it's one of your watchers that's eager for your next story, you need to make it convenient for the random reader to stop in and check out your story.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
I'll have to keep this in mind. I had zero idea people were less prone to reading pdf formats; just posted a story to FA as a pdf, but may go back, and also post it so it can be read without downloading. I just wonder how the formatting will carry over; I write on Open Office.

Also: I hate having to re-do and spent too much time on formatting, when copying a document over...I wonder what horrors await :p

But more readers would always be nice.

Also: I need to create some more enticing looking little icons, to lure people in, but have no idea how...sadly, this skunk is just not at all a computer skunk...or, barely is one!
I wouldn't say people are dead set against .pdf files; they can be read on a variety of devices and reader programs.
 

Kellan Meig'h

Kilted Luthier
"And, I'll say this, not meaning to sound dickish about it. If you can't be arsed to read a .pdf, that excuse seems lame to me. On the worst of networks, it's two or three seconds to get a .pdf to download."

The problem with this thinking is that you WANT your readers to read your stories. You're trying to capture their attention. It's your job to get them to read it. So, you can't put the blame on them for skipping the story.

There's a ton of material out there and most are probably browsing around. They might click on your stuff to see what it's about and if they like your style and writing. If they see a PDF or DOC that they have to download to read (and then delete afterwards), it's very, very possible that they'll just skip it and continue browsing to something easier to deal with.

People want convenience and, as authors, we're already losing out to artists with their pictures instantly displayed and able to be visually consumed in seconds.

Unless it's one of your watchers that's eager for your next story, you need to make it convenient for the random reader to stop in and check out your story.
Well, I guess as an author, my wishes for people to read my stories as I want them to appear must be out of the realm of FA readers. I have stated before, the whole white text on black background is just absurd. I thought at one time you could fix that but I guess there is no setting for that now. I don't read many stories on FA because of that; it gives me major eye strain to try to read white on black.

I do get vastly better readership on SoFurry because I have almost full control over how my works appear. Too bad FA doesn't have that available to me. In my opinion, my $0.02 USD worth, that's a shame. I also don't like how there's one font, one font size, one line spacing. total lack of imagination that does not support the written art.

And again, it's only two or three SECONDS on the crappiest services to download a pdf and anything that can download a pdf can read a pdf. They actually download faster than a word doc. I reiterate, it's probably people at school or work that are searching the NSFW areas that don't want to leave behind a data trail.

Be it what may, I'm going to continue to use pdf format on FA until I can figure out how to properly deal with the cr@ptastic formatting available to me.

EDIT-

Poking around, I found a setting for the light or dark on FA. Light is better and for some odd reason, in light setting I can change the font size but if I switch back to dark, those buttons don't exist. Odd. I tried an upload of an existing file, only in .txt, UTF-8, CR & LF Encoding. SOme of the formatting carried over, but not all. Center seems a no-go and I lost some Bold and Italic. I'll have to see if BBcode can fix that. Maybe. I dunno. It's late here so If I make headway tomorrow, I'll come back and post again.

BTW, here is that reposted file; "Scribe" Chapter 01 in Text format It doesn't look the best but maybe there's hope.

Kel, the possibly spoiled writer Warhorse.
 
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Raever

Chaotic Neutral Wreckage
I usually put it into txt. if it's a shorter story, if it's longer or I plan to do more than one chapter I include a txt version which is just a snippet of the overall story and then include a link to the full pdf version in the description for those who want to keep reading. I don't blame people for not wanting to download a pdf - and I won't punish them for it by simply saying they can't be bothered to. I know I personally hate downloading random shit onto my pc. It feels like a waste of space, if I wanted to read writing I'd go elsewhere anyway and I say this as a writer.

However, my view might be a bit shrewd since FA's overall layout/format doesn't really appeal to writers anyway. Reading stories on FA is a bit of an eyesore if it's txt and a hassle if it's anything other than txt. I'd rather go to Archive of our Own, FF.net, or even DeviantArt since it displays text in a much more appealing way that doesn't strain the eyes and also doesn't ask me to download a file or open a new window (because if I have to do that....why am I reading on your site?). It's silly to me.
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
Here's something I tried, with mixed results: I copied and pasted one page into a text box in my computer's canned Paint 3D program. I then shifted the borders around until the picture's appearance matched the page, then saved it as a png file. [Edit: I repeated these steps for each remaining page, plus the introduction.] Entering the last page, first, I then uploaded each page onto the main FA site as art (no literature option will accept a png) then story. I plugged in the proper categories and copied and pasted the tags. This meant that , when I was finished, the person browsing could see them clearly marked in my gallery and in the proper order; the introduction plus 14 pages.

It works. The problem is that I was immediately told, by a couple different, irate people, that flooding the 'new' art section with pictures of text was rude and that I shouldn't have done it.

It looks good, though, and I preserved the font and the look that I wanted. The walls of text quickly get bumped off of the 'new' screen by newer submissions. If the upload options allowed for photo files to upload directly into the literature section, I would happily have done that.

Certainly more work than simply providing a pdf, but a fairly straightforward and good-looking option.
 
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Raever

Chaotic Neutral Wreckage
If the upload options allowed for photo files to upload directly into the literature section, I would happily have done that.

Yeah that's another thing that I never understood about FA - writing isn't allowed to be given it's own imagery however there isn't a way to sort writing with imagery outside of labeling it as art (which it very much is) or attaching your writing to a commission or something you drew yourself, which feels like a hassle to get anything read.

FA is an art site but writers tend to be left in the background a lot of the time. v.v
 

Chochmah

Member
I am currently writing my first story for the site, and I have been doing it in LaTeX because I am most comfortable that way. The result of this is a PDF, but looking at what people are saying above, I may have to reconsider that. Thankfully, utilities exist to transfer it into a doc easily and I believe a txt file straight from the .tex file as well. Worst case scenario, I know with certainty it can be turned into a Word Document, which can then be read in LibreOffice and then exported as a txt - a roundabout process to be sure, but very doable.

Despite that, I would have preferred to keep my work in the original LaTeX format. Maybe I should upload it twice, with a PDF version and a .txt version and the description of one has a link to the other.
 
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