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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Writer's Toolbox #2: More Must-Have Tools for Writers


This week Ruth Harris gives us more must-have tools for writers in the second installment of her "Writer's Toolbox" Series. Lots of stuff here that's available FREE or cheaply.

This is another post—like the one about global markets last week—that reminds me how much I still don't know about this business. I have to admit I've never made out a style sheet. My publisher kindly has done this work for me, but I do need to learn this stuff.

Ruth really knows what she's talking about here. Before she was a high-powered editor (and later, publisher) at several Big Six Houses, AND a bestselling author on the New York Times bestseller list, Ruth Harris worked as lowly copywriter in Macmillan's textbook department. She worked in a "bullpen" and learned the trade from experienced, no-nonsense copy editors. She says it was a great education and foundation for what was to come.

Once again, Ruth brings us the benefits of her years of professional expertise. Take it away, Ruth!

                                                                                                       ...Anne

The Writer’s Toolbox #2
Style sheets, style guides, code breaking + the best copyeditor’s query ever...and a copy editor joke
 by Ruth Harris

Style sheets

Look, guys, I don’t want you to freak out but you need a style sheet. 

Even if you’re trad-pubbing, you'll probably need one because publishers have cut back. Copyediting, like a lot of things, ain’t what it used to be. 

And if you self-pub and plan to hire a copyeditor, a style sheet will alert him/her to the basics of your manuscript and save you both time and money.

In case you don’t know what a style sheet is and maybe have never even heard of one, a style sheet is a list of all the important data—names, addresses, dates, people and places—in your manuscript. Making a style sheet is straightforward: the first time a character’s name (or any other data) is mentioned, add it to your list. Simple as that.

Basically, your style sheet is a road map to your book, a quality-control tool that provides coherence and consistency. A style sheet is analogous to continuity in a movie and will ensure, among other things, that your characters don’t suddenly change names—or worse—in the middle of your novel. Trust me, it happens.

Like this: Your MC is James Q. Black. You don’t want him to suddenly to become Jimmy Z. Brown and confuse the hell out of the editor you’re trying to sell. Because, guess what?, you won’t make the sale. A style sheet will save you from the vagaries of memory—and from yourself.

Or this: If you self-pub, you want to make certain your reader knows exactly which character is dangling off the edge of a cliff by the fingertips, don’t you? Is it James Q. or Jimmy Z, or, god forbid, Jane Z.—reader wants to know!

Example #2: Your heroine, Suzie Smith, lives at 21 Main Street. Add Suzie Smith plus her address to your style sheet. Will save you from calling her Suzy Smith a few chapters later and makes sure you refer to her address as 21 Main Street. Not twenty-one Main Street. And certainly not 22 Maine Avenue.

Suzie’s bff works at Lulu’s Bakery. Add bff’s name and Lulu’s Bakery to your style sheet. Loulou’s Bakery? What’s dat and what’s it doing in this story? A confused reader is a reader who’s going to lose interest.

Ace fiction editor Beth Hill, explains her approach to style sheets here and offers some useful how-to details. Deanna Hoak, star sf/f copyeditor, discusses the importance of style sheets here. She shares examples of actual style sheets here so you can see what they look like. You will find more about style sheets and a FREE downloadable template here.

Related to the style sheet are character descriptions that ensure a blonde is blonde (unless a change in hair color is critical to the plot). A six footer is six feet. A scar on the right side of a character’s face stays on the right side, doesn’t move to the left or completely disappear (at least not without a credible explanation).

Style guide or style sheet? Is there a difference?

Apple and oranges, bay-bee, although IRL ("in real life"...translation for the not so cool kids like me...Anne) sometimes there is overlap. Generally speaking, though, a style sheet keeps track of the nuts and bolts: 21 Main Street not twenty-one Main Street or 22 Maine Street, remember?

A style guide, OTOH (on the other hand), offer suggestions about how to write. Some publishers provide a style guide, a sort of house rules for writers. 

This FREE style guide from The Economist emphasizes clarity—a goal every writer is (or should be) aiming for.

Here are some samples from the Economist style guide: 
  • Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. (I heartily endorse this one. So much tech info seems to be written in Klingon...Anne)
The New York Times Style Guide ($13) is here. And here's a useful FREE overview of the AP Style guide. An entertaining consideration of the difference between a diaeresis and an umlaut (don’t forget the diphthong!) in The New Yorker.

FREE download of Fowler’s Modern English Usage here  (McAfee seems to think this is a dangerous site, but I went there with no dire consequences...Anne) . How to choose a style guide. William Strunk’s classic The Elements Of Style FREE download.

Elmore Leonard’s beloved classic 10 Rules of Writing is a style guide with the stated goal of keeping the writer invisible to the reader.

Writers from Zadie Smith to Hilary Mantel spell out their approach in a great article in the Guardian on rules for writers. Here are rules for writing dialogue and William Safire’s witty Rules for Writers.

Writing teacher Roy Peter Clark reflects on the power of the short sentence here.

Just remember, rules are suggestions, not iron-clad laws. Once you know them and use them confidently, you can (maybe) break them as long as you know what you’re doing.

Preparing your manuscript

Related to the good housekeeping aspect of a style sheet is preparing your manuscript so that your book looks professional. Here, from the University of Chicago Press, is an easy-to-follow FREE guide to the details of manuscript preparation.

You will find more FREE information about preparing different kinds of manuscripts for submission—books, journals, art—here from the Chicago Manual of Style.

Breaking the code, or: working with an editor

Your editor has just returned your manuscript and it’s covered with doodles, squiggles and hieroglyphics. Those weird-looking doodles aren’t top-secret CIA spy codes or the formula for making an H-bomb in your kitchen.

They’re called editor’s (or proofreader’s) marks and, in order to communicate with your editor, you need to understand his/her language. You’ll find a handy Rosetta Stone here.

Format your manuscript for publication.

I wrote about formatting in the first Writer’s Toolbox but, since then, other on-line formatters have turned up on my radar.

  • Legend Maker for Mac costs about $30 and will turn your manuscript into epub or mobi format. Comes with a user guide, validators and on-line support. Find out more about Legend Maker here.
  • Mobipocket Creator converts Word files to .prc files that can be uploaded directly to Kindle. Mobipocket Creator is a FREE download here.
  • Kindlegen is Amazon’s own FREE downloadable tool for formatting your book into a Kindle-friendly format. Kindlegen is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

Build your own website/blog

Even if you’re not a tech guru, a number of on-line helpers make the job of creating a professional-looking website or blog doable without fainting spells or hair-pulling. WordPress, Blogger.com, Wix and Weebly all have their proponents and all of them are FREE.

To help you decide, here’s more info: A Blogger vs. WordPress shoot out. A Weebly review. Weebly/WordPress comparison. Wix/Weebly compare and contrast.

Link shorteners

Google has one. Other flavors include is.gd, rd.me and tinyurl. Twitter and Hootsuite provide their own shorteners and bit.ly lets you create bundles, useful when you want to tweet a single link to send readers to your book at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc.

Best editor’s query


“It’s not clear whose orgasm this is. Please clarify.”

Thanks to @SarahFrantz for this gem.

Copy editor joke

Q: How many copy editors does it take to change a light bulb?

A: This wording does not conform to our style guide.

Whew! Are you madly clicking on those links, scriveners? You don't have to do them all at once, the way I did. But you can ask Ruth questions about which style guides, web hosts, etc work for her, and what she'd recommend. Do you have any tools to add? 


Book Bargain of the Week





5 full-length novels by million-copy NYT bestseller and Romantic Times award winner Ruth Harris. 2000 pages of quality fiction.

Decades (Book # 1) Top 5 on Movers and Shakers. This bestselling classic is the compelling story of a marriage at risk, a family in crisis and a woman on the brink set against the tumultuous decades of the mid-twentieth century. "Absolutely perfect." ...Publisher's Weekly "Terrific!" ...Cosmopolitan "Powerful. A gripping novel." ...Women Today Book Club

Husbands And Lovers (Book #2) Million copy New York Times bestseller! Top 10 on Movers & Shakers! Winner, Best Contemporary, Romantic Times! The story of a shy wallflower who turns herself into a lovely and desirable woman and the two handsome, successful men who compete for her love. "A contemporary tale of passion and commitment. Steamy and fast-paced, you will be spellbound." ...Cosmopolitan

Love And Money (Book #3) #1 on Amazon's Movers and Shakers. Honored by the Literary Guild and the Book-of-the-Month Club. Rich girl, poor girl. Sisters and strangers until fate--and murder--bring them face to face. "Richly plotted. First-class entertainment." ...NY Times "Fast-paced, superior fiction. A terrifically satisfying 'good read.'" ...Fort Lauderdale News Sun-Sentinel

Modern Women (Book # 4) Million-copy NYT bestseller! #1 on Movers and Shakers! Three likable, dynamic women--and the men in their lives. The right men. The wrong men. The maybe men. "Funny, sad, vivid, and raunchy. Harris seeks to enliven and entertain, and she does it in spades." ...The Cleveland Plain-Dealer  "Ruth Harris's rapier wit spices up a superb 'rags to riches' novel. You'll love Modern Women." ...West Coast Review of Books "Sharp and stylishly written." ...Chicago Sun-Times

The Last Romantics (Book # 5)--A sweeping love story set in Paris and New York during the glamorous Jazz Age of the 1920's. He is dashing, handsome and celebrated but dangerously flawed. She is beautiful, talented, lonely, haunted. Fate brings them together but will the tides of history keep them apart? "I love it, I love it! Fantastic, immensely readable." ...Cosmopolitan "Gloriously romantic" ...Kirkus

Opportunity Alerts

WILDA HEARNE FLASH FICTION CONTEST $10 ENTRY FEE. 500 words. Any theme. Semi-finalists will be chosen by a regional team of published writers. The final manuscript will be chosen by Susan Swartwout, publisher of Southeast Missouri State University Press. Winner receives an award of $300 and publication in Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley. Deadline October 1st.

The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS podcasts. Get your short story recorded FREE for an online podcast! Fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

WILD LIGHT POETRY CONTEST The $25 entry fee is a little pricey, but this is run by the prestigious Red Hen Press and offers a prize of $1,000 and publication in The Los Angeles Review. Submit up to three poems of up to 200 lines each. Deadline October 15th.

***

This week Anne is visiting the Alliterative Allomorph, where she's talking about how the indie revolution has positively affected all readers, even if you still only buy paper books at brick and mortar stores. 

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37 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never sent a style sheet with my manuscript, but since I do write down character details, names, places, and all that good stuff before I ever start writing, I guess I do in essence make one. A little jumbled, but I could pull it together quickly.

September 29, 2013 at 10:17 AM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Yikes, Ruth. This is something I never thought to do but am going to do from now on. I often have to stop when I'm writing my WWII gay romance series and ask myself is it Leslie or Edward who is blond with thinning hair and resembles Leslie Howard? A style sheet will also help with research and keep it consistent so I won't run a river through my English village that hasn't a bubbling brook in sight. Off to click links and download from your post, but After my wedding reception to my long time partner, now husband, Bob. Just had to throw that in. You and Anne are the greatest and also the best thing about Sunday--other than my wedding reception of course. Paul

September 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Southpaw said...

Oh yes, I have many tabs open now! Thanks for all the info.

I don't have a "sheet" per say, but I do have a notes for people, places, and even some things. I found it's a lot easier than having to scroll back or search out what I wrote!

September 29, 2013 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Alex—Yep. A style sheet is exactly what you're doing. A style sheet is, basically, a list. Back when I was copyediting textbooks, there were no computers but we managed very well even as we edited data-heavy texts with all kinds of specific scientific, historic, agricultural terms that had to be accurate and consistent.

Paul—First of all, congratulations to you and Bob! Please have a glass of whatever-you're-serving for me. I will cyber-enjoy!

You're making my point exactly: is it Leslie or Edward who is blond with thinning hair and resembles Leslie Howard? You'd think the author (of all people!) would remember but the fact is, nope. There is so much to keep track of in a book that anything that makes it easier is a huge plus and a style sheet along with a list of character descriptions definitely qualifies.

OMG. Leslie Howard. Swoon!

Southpaw—Your notes qualify as a style sheet. As long as you can refer to your notes easily, they serve the same function and, as you say, it's much easier than having to scroll back or search. Saves time and doesn't distract you from what you're writing.

September 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I had to laugh -- a style SHEET. Gah, I have a style DIARY. A big huge book filled with ALL my characters flavors and what-nots. The one time I forgot to add to it, yup, that was the one time I needed the information in the next book.

And about those rules for writing short sentences, taking out long words, and using other languages -- oops. Yeah, I kind of broke all those rules a long time ago. But I do know what they are. I just don't choose to adhere to them.

Thanks Ruth. Another great post to add to the toolbox.

Thanks Anne. Hope you're feeling better.

September 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Thank you, Ruth. You bet. I'll certainly have that drink. :)

September 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

What a wonderful, useful post. It's almost too much to take in all at once. Thank you!

September 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—Lol A style DIARY! That's a great idea especially if you're writing a series & need to keep track of beaucoup info.

Paul–Please email me at harris.ruth.c@gmail.com. I have an idea for you.

Rosi—Thank you for the kind words. Writing and publishing a book is A LOT MORE than just "writing a book." Take your time letting it sink in. I didn't learn all this overnight, that's for sure!

September 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

Hah! Epic fantasy IS a style sheet, the world-building is longer than the story. But if I hired an editor I'd certainly be ready for any proper noun-oriented query.

I would suggest you include the Smashwords Style Guide in your list of tools. Not only does SW automatically push your manuscript out in all the various major publication styles, the Word document, when formatted for "Meatgrinder" is at least 97% ready for Amazon and B&N (most just a question of dropping the cover from page one).

September 29, 2013 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Just wow-- fantastic resources and advice. Thank you for taking the time to pull this all together. I'm going to have to read this several times.

September 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Debra Davis Hinkle said...

Amazing blog post. I've already read it twice and downloaded two things. Thanks so much for your hard work.

September 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Trekelny—D'Accord! Epic fantasy was one of the genres I was thinking about when I wrote the post and in almost exactly the terms you use: Epic fantasy IS a style sheet.

Thank you for the SW suggestion. Excellent.

Julie—Thanks for the kind words. It took me years to learn all this. Take your time letting it ll sink in. Then put it into practice which will take more time so that you will really understand.

No quick fixes here. Just reality the best Anne and I can convey. Neither she nor I started out knowing what we know now.

Debra—Thank you. I'm glad you found the post helpful.

September 29, 2013 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Alicia Street said...

Great post, as usual, Ruth! I always use a style sheet when I'm writing. A habit I picked up while studying copyediting that stuck for good. I have so many of your posts in my reference file, and this one is definitely going right in there, too. Thanks!

September 29, 2013 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Debby Gies said...

Thanks for the wealth of information, so much to download and practice!

September 29, 2013 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Alicia—I'm flattered! Thank you. :-)

Keeping a style sheet is definitely a good habit. It easy to do and makes everything soooo much easier.

Debby—Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you found the post helpful.

September 30, 2013 at 7:48 AM  
OpenID emmameade.com said...

Thanks for the advice. I usually have a jumble of notes I work from. Style sheet all the way going forward.

September 30, 2013 at 10:25 AM  
OpenID developmental-editor.com said...

Thanks for the helpful content! For about six months, I was an editorial assistant for Month9Books, LLC. As an editorial assistant, it was my duty to create style sheets and style guides. A style sheet was just a basic form, like what you listed above, where, after reading through the entire book and taking loads of notes, I just listed basic information about the characters, setting, and grammar.

However, the style guide was a LOT more thorough and time-consuming. Whereas a style sheet would be about 2-5 pages, a style guide could be anywhere between 20-60 pages depending on how big the book is. There, I would summarize every chapter, write thorough character and setting descriptions based solely off of what the story told me, list any grammatical inconsistencies, provide definitions of terms, and explain the voice.

It's pretty much what I do now as a developmental editor. Even before I was an editor, though, I used to have multitudes of style diaries, like Anne Gallagher. ^_^ Heck, I still do, lol.

September 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Emma—Yay for style sheets. They make everything easier!

developmental-editor.com—You're absolutely right. A style sheet is short; a style guide is longer, more detailed. You and Anne have introduced me to the concept of style diary!

September 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

This is very useful information. I'm writing a trilogy for the first time and have much to keep track of. I am continually changing my protagonist's big brother's name. Travis or Trevor depending on my mood, I guess. I think I will change it to Teman. I won't forget that one since that was the name one of my lost loves. Ha! I'm starting my style page today. Thanks!

September 30, 2013 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Sheet. Style sheet. Sheeze...

September 30, 2013 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Christine—A trilogy practically demands a style sheet—even if the guy is named after your lost love! Sometimes the perfect character name comes to me instantly; other times I fumble around until FINALLY I get it right. That's when a style sheet really comes in handy.

September 30, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Sisters in Crime Central Coast Chapter said...

Thanks, Ruth. Lots of good stuff. I always make a style sheet and follow it. Leftover habit from my McGraw-Hill Tech writer days.

October 1, 2013 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Lorna Collins - said...

We don't do a style sheet as described, but we do detailed timelines, including the age of each character at the time of every event if a long book. For our current historical covering seventy years, THE MEMORY KEEPER, we have a nine-page very detailed timeline. It's the only way we could keep track of the characters and historical events.
For our first mystery, we did a timeline, sometimes down to fifteen-minute increments, which tracked each character and there whereabouts. We also do thorough character sketches, including physical descriptions.
Of course, most of this detail doesn't make it into the books.

October 1, 2013 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Sisters—Thank you for the flattering words. Lots of good habits derive from our days working in TradPub! :-)

Lorna—I hear you! Been there. done that. When a story spreads over several decades or generations a detailed timeline is essential. Writers do lots of work the reader doesn't—and shouldn't—see!

October 1, 2013 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Shah Wharton said...

A style guide... what a simple yet great idea. And oh my, what an awesome post. I will be spending the rest of the day clicking these links and bookmarking/Evernoting them. Thanks so much ladies!

Shah X
http://iurl.no/b5655

October 2, 2013 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Shah—Thank you for the kind words. Lots of times simple ideas are the best. Problem is, we don't always come up with those ideas ourselves. I know I didn't. I learned from those who came before me. Glad the post was helpful.

October 2, 2013 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Lexa Cain said...

Ohhh...the style sheet. The thing that I should really have but I don't. I think those are for real writers who are writing series. I don't qualify. (Handy excuse, right?) OTOH (I'm learning!) I love the style guide and agree with all the points you put up there. Have a great weekend! :-)

October 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Lexa—Thanks! Basically, a style sheet is just a list. It can be that simple and do the job that needs to be done. A computer lets you get fancy with sorts etc but, deep down, it's just a list. ;-)

October 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

Being a typical Los Angeleno, I started my writing career in screenwriting. My first script was well-received, but I always got the same comment -- too many characters. So I cut some out.

Some time later, after several submissions, I noticed I'd cut so many characters, two ended up in an unintended incestuous relationship. Wish I'd had this advice back then!

Thanks for another enlightening post, Ruth

October 3, 2013 at 2:07 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Debra—Glad the post was helpful. Thanks for your kind words.

"An unintended incestuous relationship?" Oy. Shows how easy it is for a writer to get into deep trouble. A style sheet can make all the difference because it's about the nuts & bolts and, as you just pointed out, the nuts and bolts really matter!

October 3, 2013 at 4:33 AM  
Blogger ryan field said...

The Style Sheet is so important for continuity. I've actually always referred to mine as the family bible for each book. I have always been blessed to work with stellar copy editors upon whom I've come to depend. However, with self-pubbed books I've done the style sheet keeps me sane. A good example was I once wrote a novel without a style sheet and two very minor characters wound up with the same name...Mike. Thankfullly the copy editor caught that and saved me. But if she hadn't it would have been a problem. Of course a lot of guys are named Mike. However, there shouldn't be two in the same book.

October 3, 2013 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Ryan—lol! Debra's unintended incestuous relationship and your experience with two guys named Mike makes my point even better than I did! Style sheets rule.

Thanks for commenting! :-)

October 3, 2013 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Greg Strandberg said...

I sure had some large sheets for my fantasy trilogy.

What I find incredibly useful now is a publishing sheet. I've got all my books, ASINs, ISBNs, links, blurbs...the works. And to make it easier I've put a hyperlinked TOC at the top.

When your helpful documents start to get weighed down by size, I'd add in that TOC to save you time and headaches.

October 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Style sheet! You know, I create a list like this for every book, but I didn't know it had a name. I just knew I'd forget details like that if they weren't written down. Heck, I'd forget to wear pants if I didn't have a mirror in my room :/

Thanks for all the awesomeness.

October 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Greg—I love your idea of a publishing sheet. Brilliant!

Julie—LOL Glad you have a mirror in your room!

A style sheet is just that: a list. There are fancy variations but, down to basics, it's a list. But, oh, so necessary!

October 4, 2013 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

I create a style sheet for every book I edit, not to keep track of character names, but to keep track of other copyediting notes like whether the author wants to use the Oxford comma, which words he wants capitalized, how certain names should be written (often place names), etc. I go over the list with the author, so I know her preferences, then I keep that document open while editing in case I need to refer to it. It would be wonderful if authors already had those style sheets on hand!

November 9, 2013 at 5:10 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Meghan—Thanks! A style sheet is an editor's—and writer's—best friend. It's an easy way to keep track of all the details that go into writing a book. If a writer starts out making an ss when s/he begins, it's no big deal and invaluable later in the ms when the writer tries to remember what the name of that minor-but-important is and what color his/her hair is!

November 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM  

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