Hello everyone. I’m going to hit on some of that boring “writerly” stuff today… getting back to the whole “Learning to Write” roots of this blog for a minute. So if that’s the sort of thing that causes your eyes to glaze over, then you may want to stop reading here.
Still with me? Really? Okay, it’s on you then. Here we go.
If you aren’t a writer, then likely all your exposure to the “rules” of writing was probably drilled into you in school. Writing professionally though, you learn that there are other standards (or style guides) for writing, and that much of those standards were written by people who were concerned with how much space your words take up on a printed page. A few commas deleted at the right places can make the difference in a 300 page book, and a 295 page book. Five pages spread across a 10k book print run comes to 50k pages that a publisher doesn’t have to pay for. Multiply that several times (since a publisher is going to have several authors in their stable) and all the paper and ink saved translates into money in the publisher’s pocket.
So various kinds of writing have developed “style guides”. If you’re a journalist, you may be required to write according to the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style). Or if you’re a college student, you may be required to conform to Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, or possibly one of the Modern Language Association (MLA) guides geared specifically to writing research papers or “Scholarly Publishing”. And medical publications have all sorts of publishing guides depending on the discipline you’re writing for.
For genre fiction writing though, most people in the business use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as a guideline. At least, most people I know in the business. And as such, I’ve gotten used to writing in a manner that more readily conforms to the CMOS rules. I’ve learned that if I write according to CMOS rules the first time, it minimizes the amount of time spent editing my manuscripts. So I minimize punctuation… fewer commas, hyphens, etc. And colons and semi-colons are avoided like the plague. Even then, I’m used to my editor going through my work and slashing even more “extraneous” punctuation.
I’ve been told in the past that I tend to get carried away with the comma, and I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to ellipses. Not this time, though. I’m working on the edits for Chucklers and I don’t know if the editor is using a different style manual, or if she just has a different style, personally. Whatever it is, my new editor has been plugging in extra commas, ellipses, and even hyphens like there’s no tomorrow. It’s taking a bit of getting used to.
I don’t suppose it really matters all that much. As long as the book flows well and doesn’t pull the reader out of the story, then it shouldn’t matter whether the car is “well stocked” or “well-stocked”. Right?
And if all goes according to plan, I should be finished in the next few days.
Once I finish approving or rejecting the edits, the book goes back to the publisher and… and what? I don’t honestly know. This is the first time I’ve worked with this publisher, so I don’t yet have a good feel for how they work. I don’t know if they give it another editing pass, or send it off to formatting, or what. I’m just trying not to be too big a pita for them while we work on getting this book out to you fine folks. I know I still have to get the dedication and author bio to them, and they will need to be worked into the formatting. And I don’t know how much their formatters will expect me to do, or if they would rather I just get out of the way and leave it all to them.
All the little things, like how many lines before and after a chapter heading, is there a particular symbol they want to use to denote scene changes, or simply divide with the old “triple asterisk”? There are a myriad of tiny little details involved where I typically know in advance who will be doing what. This is a new ballgame for me, and I’ll have to learn it the same way I learned when I published HPM.
But I do know that I’m moving forward, and that Chucklers is almost born. I know that End Point Pangaea is moving forward, slowly at the moment, but that progress on it will be much faster once I’m finished with the Chucklers edits. And I know that I’m looking forward to getting some more titles out to you folks.
But in order to do so, I need to finish this blog post and get back to work. So here I go… writer at work.
Talk to you next time. Stay safe, everyone.