I'm observing, as of late, a certain amount of pushback from Authors on how they want their stories to look. I'm certain that this has long been a sticking point between Publishers and Authors. Authors want one thing and Publishers want another. When Gay Authors first started, we had custom websites for each author. Every author had their own look, their own feel, their own navigation. At the time Gay Authors was just that, a collection of independent authors doing independent things. Technology steamed along and a software called eFiction came out and we started using that to allow authors to post their own stories. It quickly grew and allowed Gay Authors to grow because the staff was no longer tied up making custom websites. This went along for a couple years growing and growing until finally, we needed a new solution. So, I wrote specifications for software that would fully integrate with our forum software and features and would fix all the problems of eFiction, putting all authors into one place, with a consistent look and feel for Gay Authors. We called it GA.Stories at the time to fit with Invision Forums naming scheme. IP.Blog, IP.Forums, etc. The rollout was... not fun. A lot of hosted authors threw outright tantrums. Several left Gay Authors in a high drama huff. My patience in that timeframe still needed vast improvements. I've learned since.
I know @C James is one of the authors that was greatly discouraged by the lack of customization available in the original GA.Stories. The Rich Text Editor of the time, which is actually an early version of what we use now, didn't have the robustness it has today. C James has a lot of cool pictures that fit his story and the editor simply choked on them. (BTW, pictures work great now even allowing text to wrap around them properly)
Anyway, the original move to GA.Stories taught us some painful lessons and we used those lessons when we upgraded the site to Forums 4.1 with the new version of Stories. I'm frustrated with the slow pace of updates from our programmer, but you get what you can afford and the pool of programmers that can integrate with the forums is small.
But that brings me, finally, to my point. We have set up a story hosting system that purposely segregates different types of data so that we can present the best consistent look to our readers. Further, by keeping things separated, when we make a software update for a format change, we can update the entire site in one go, instead of having to worry about how it affects certain stories that our outside the standard. Another very important aspect of this is the Chapter Text Controls.
Those controls do not work properly when authors mess with formatting a lot. We've got some code in place to try to mitigate it, but honestly one of the oldest computer sayings out there applies here perfectly: Garbage In, Garbage Out. We have not overly restricted the Rich Text Editor yet to allow for the maximum convenience to the Authors. Some authors have been abusing this on purpose or because we haven't been clear enough. So, I'm making this post for our authors here and we'll work to make things clear before we post it wider.
In the system, we have specific fields for everything. This allows us to have a consistent feel for everyone. It allows us to leverage features, like Series. I saw a story note the other day linking to the next story in the series. I about hit the roof. We have a Series feature specifically for that. There is a blog Tuesday Jan 9th detailing that.
We make these rules clear to authors in the Moderation Queue:
Any notes for a story belong in the Story Note text field and will be displayed on the Story Detail/Table of Contents Page
Chapter Text field is for Chapter Text ONLY. There is to be no notes, no repeating of the chapter number and chapter title. No repeat of the Table of Contents. Chapter Text ONLY.
Chapter Note field is for Chapter notes you want to appear before the chapter text. It shows up in a noticeable box on the chapter page.
Chapter End Note is for notes that you want to appear at the end of a chapter. It shows up in a noticeable box at the end of a chapter page.
Chapter Text should be posted clear of formatting except for:
Bold - This can be used sparingly for emphasis. If it is used for more than a handful of words, then you are using it wrong. Your writing should provide the required emphasis, not the formatting.
Italics. Same as with bold. The exception here is that in Fantasy, Sci-Fi and FanFictions, italics often indicates mental communications instead of verbal.
Letter format - There is a button in the editor for this so that you can tag a block of text as a letter. This is used in some fiction to show a written letter format.
IM/Texting Format - There is a button in the editor for this so that you can tag a block of text as being IM's or Texting. This is used in some fiction to show texting, IM's and emails.
Rarely, but center and right justified might be used.
Formatting you should NOT be using and why:
Font Style - This does not usually work as intended and sometimes conflicts with the Chapter Text controls.
Colors - There are people that are color blind or seeing impaired and the colors mess with the Chapter Text controls.
Size - Members are able to set their own preferred size when reading with the Chapter Text Controls and setting a text size, especially a larger one, really messes that up.
Nothing else really either because of how it'll look across various devices.
Pictures can be used in the chapter text, but they need to be uploaded to the site somewhere else first. Typically in the Gallery. Pictures should be used to enhance and emphasize your story. Resizing, and assigning title to the picture are also important. (just double-click inserted picture)
FanFiction.net and Fictionpress.com solve these formatting issues by restricting all formatting to just bold and italic and stripping everything else when you paste. We can do this as well. It would solve a lot of our problems from a technical aspect. I'd prefer allow authors to handle it themselves. We will be working with software updates to clean this up. Authors that need to be reminded of these issues may find themselves back into the moderation queue. We're not making these rules arbitrarily. They are to accommodate reading on various devices along with support for people with disabilities.
Simple advice for posting into the system:
Write in your program of choice
Use these settings:
Please check your spacing! - Do a search for ^p^p and replace with ^p. After the find/replace, select all and go to paragraph formatting. Your line spacing should be single, and your after spacing should be "auto"
Do not indent - Whether it is by tabs or you have it set for a first line indent, please remove all indentation.
Use Size 12 Times New Roman Font
Paste into the chapter text editor
Verify bold and italics if required.
Add your image(s) if needed, being sure to double click on the image and naming it. Selecting left or right for alignment will let the text flow around the picture.
Let us know here why you're using chapter text for anything other than chapter text. There might be opportunities to improve existing software structure.