I asked questions on the comment page instead...

(Los Angeles, CA USA)

Hello again, I'm going to rewrite my questions, since I wrote by accident on the comment page...I love and am consumed in reading all I have read from your site while on vacation, and I am stoked! I have a really, really good book going on, but I just read that you can use a back story and I want to know if a fictional novel needs this as does it go with other lesser characters? Also you say that an extra space after a period or colon is not needed, so when I am done with my sentence and put a period at the end, do I not put a space after the period? Like Tom went to the funeral. Then he cried in the limo. The word then was after a space, do I not put a space after the period? Also the hyphen, do I not use them at all? Or just at the end of a sentence? Also justified alignment is not to the right, but to the left? So are you saying that the whole alignment should be flushed always to the left? Also in the middle of the sentence, may I use something like, Jack--who is a killer--is very good at getting away with many murders. Or do I just throw out the hyphen completely?

I'm now obsessed with the plots, technical things and on and on! So many classes I took in college and nothing was learned about any of this, I am fortunate and you have made me learn things that I can't believe that you know all about writing...thank you so very much, and you are unreal, genius, and a teacher that has taught me so far all I wanted to know! Awesome!

Response: Welcome back, J.J.

One question at a time...

All characters - all people - have backstories. Those are just the things that happened to them before the story began, how and where they grew up, their socio-cultural background, etc. You should know a little about your characters' backstories because that will inform their attitudes and behavior during the story.

In some stories, backstories matter a great deal and are told in detail. For instance, some tragedy or conflict from the past may be awoken in the present. In other stories, they are less important and only a few details may be told.

As for your manuscript questions...

1. You put one space after a period, just like you see here. It used to be standard practice for typists to put two spaces after periods, but printers abandoned that practice to save space.

2. You don't end a sentence with a hyphen. You end a sentence with a period. You don't need to hyphenate at the end of a line, since your word processor will automatically wrap to the next line (unlike what happens with typewriters). You certainly can use dashes, as in your example.

3. Yes, manuscript pages should be flush left and ragged right. Otherwise, the word processor varies the spacing between words making the text harder to read.

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