Thursday, February 23, 2017

Have you ever tried to change the font-size of a half-written book?

Oy vey, what a hassle.

When I'm writing a book, I generally like to draft and format at the same time.  That is to say, I don't just type up all the text and then try to make it pretty on the page; I use a word processor to template out what the printed book is going to look like, and then I draft the text while fitting it into that template.  This allows me to edit on the fly, make word-choices that aid in justifying and kerning the text, and make sure that I can fit paragraphs or illustrations within a given page-count.

But as I've been merrily typing along, drafting the text to the Engines & Empires Core Rules, I've noticed how long the book has been getting, and how large 10-point font (for text) or 9-point font (for spell and monster descriptions) has looked on the page, and thought more than once about shrinking everything down by a point.  Then, once my load of schoolwork lightened up this semester and I took the plunge back into working on E&E 2e, I decided to go for broke and try it—after all, going over the book would be a chance to both proofread and revise everything, and a good memory-refresher.

But, consider everything that goes into reformatting the text like this.  You can't just highlight everything and click "reduce font size" once and be done with it.  You have to go paragraph by paragraph; look for hyphenated words that are only hyphenated because of a line-break, and un-hyphenate them; shrink the font for that paragraph; and then re-hyphenate or even re-write here and there, in order to re-kern the text.  And with every page, as the paragraphs shrink and the text takes up less and less space, you have to move illustrations around, reset the column breaks and page breaks and section breaks, delete the occasional subject header, and above all else hunt down and murder widowed and orphaned paragraph lines like a goddamn Predator.

It's a pain in the arse.

But it's also worth it: the final book is going to be some 30 or 40 pages shorter in the end (out of 200-plus), just by shrinking the body text by a single point.  That'll knock a couple of bucks off the cost to print a copy.  Anyhoo… I guess I'm just rambling about this because I'm excited by the prospect of finishing this book and finally holding a copy in my hands.

And I still have no idea how long it's going to take to actually finish writing it.  But I'm sure looking forward to spring break.  That's still five weeks off, but I'm sure as hell going to take advantage of the free time and, if I don't have chapter 5 done by then, finish up with monsters; and if I am lucky enough to be done with that, write chapter 6 (referee rules) and the appendices and get it off to the printers.  Whew…

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