Musings: Fiction Style Manual
Style manuals for scholarly, journalistic, and scientific manuscripts are plentiful, e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA, ANS, AP, etc. Style manuals for writing fiction? Not so much.
If you consider proper use of language an integral part of style, I offer these suggestions:
- Find 2-3 grammar and punctuation guides that are reputable and timely – ones you can understand and apply.
- Based on the first suggestion: Be consistent in applying the rules from the guides you’ve selected.
- Based on suggestions one and two: Occasionally agree to disagree with other writers regarding these rules and maintain your consistent application of those from your preferred guides.
- Bottom line: When you prepare a submission or receive an offer to publish, follow the rules of the publisher.
But, is there a universally accepted style manual for fiction? No, not that I’ve ever found. Can there ever be an industry-standard fiction style guide? I doubt it. Therefore, I suggest you:
- Be aware of the recommendations and standards for your genre offered by reputable writing authorities and organizations.
- Educate yourself on the style preferred by the publishing sources you intend to query.
- Be flexible in rewriting your submission to fit the requirements of those sources, if you can do so without losing your individual, unique style. If you can’t, you may be submitting to the wrong sources.
If you keep a list or journal of grammar/punctuation issues pertinent to you, and also jot down ideas regarding your personal writing technique, you might be developing your own manual – applicable to your genre and unique style.