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I'm editing/proof-reading my novel (novella?) trying to self-publish a limited edition before Christmas.  I've been working in Word Pad and MS Word.  
I need advice on two points:  1.) how to know when I'm finished editing, and 2.) how to format from 8+1/2" x 11" one-sided pages into 5+1/2" x 8+1/2" two-sided pages.  Should I invest in MS Works?
Eventually I may want advice on "real" publishing, but fear an editor would hack my stories to pieces.  Hoping to hear back from you, Honi

Hello Honi:

First, in regard to your first question: knowing when to stop editing is probably the most difficult part of the writing process. It took me 25 years of study and practice to learn this. I wrote and wrote, studied books, wrote and wrote, went to college to get a college degree in creative writing, wrote and wrote and still I wasn't sure. It can take years and years to learn this.

I don't deal with formatting, so I can't answer that part of your question.

Whether you should invest in MS Works is up to you, but Works is fairly limited. If you have money to invest, I'd check to see if I could find a cheap, older version of Word, 97-2003. That will serve you much better than Works.

In regard to editing, I don't know if you have ever worked with editors or not, but if I "hack (a) story to pieces," it's because it needs to be in pieces so it can be put back together properly, meaning so that someone else might be interested in reading it. Of course, a great deal depends on what you want to do with your story once you are finished with it. If you are going to try to sell it, or if you care about what it looks like, that it be free of errors, etc., you should hire a professional editor. Many beginning writers, and some that are experienced, will hire an editor, then complain that they "ruined" their story, or "did a bad job," when it was the story, not the editor, that was bad to start with. If you can tell the difference between a well-written paragraph and one that is not, you don't need an editor. If you can't, you do.

Thanks for writing, and good luck with your story!  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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