Going to the Edge

My colleagues in our writing group tell me that I’ve been doing something wrong. In every paragraph I write, I indent the first line.

“Not so,” my colleagues say. “The first paragraph of the beginning goes right to the edge and so does every paragraph after a substantial break, like the three dots in the center.”

Thus the first line of my story goes to the edge———-

Tex rode into the dirty, old town.

And after a major break————-

*   *   *

Tex’s wife looked at the work she had to do that day.

Others have assured me that the gospel books of correct writing say this is how you should write the first line at the beginning and the first line after a major break. What is your practice?

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5 responses to “Going to the Edge

  1. For me, being a bit on the lazy side and not that great a typist, sitting on the edge is fine by me. I don’t have to remind myself to hit the space bar each time I start a new paragraph.

  2. I just happened to have a best seller sitting on the table beside me so I flipped through a few pages. Indents. Published by Vintage Canada. Maybe that explains it. I indent and I’m a vintage Canadian. Times change, I guess.

  3. I think this is one of those “it depends” things. As Heather points out, many, if not all, typeset books have indents. It’s a typographical standard. However, if all you’re doing is typing a story, or a letter, and not setting type, then I can’t see what difference it makes. What authorities do your writing friends use to make such a blanket statement?

  4. The bulk of the novels I read in Australia, many of them published in the US, all have that hard-out-to-the left-hand-margin rule going for the first line of a chapter or a scene, and I always advise emerging writers (most of them Australian) to do the same with their manuscripts whether they’re intending to publish independently or not.

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