Friday, July 11, 2014

Style Guide for 'You Know Fulwell'

Some of my beta readers have requested a style guide outlining the choices I have made about the book's grammar, syntax, and spelling. If you, as a reader, find this whole list to be confusing, then feel free to ignore it and just give me notes on other things. Also don't hesitate to message me with any specific questions about usage, and I will update this document with any clarifications, corrections, or other new information.

British usage and spelling and usage should be maintained throughout ('rumour, not 'rumor'; 'complexion', not 'complection'; 'realise', not 'realize'; &c.). A full list appears at the end of this post.

Capitalization: Like all proper nouns, days of the week, months, seasons, and cardinal directions should be capitalized.

Censorship: it was common the period to soften the blow of words like 'damned' by printing them as 'd--ned' and letting the reader fill in the blanks.

Colon: the colon is used in cases of introduction, definition, elaboration, and explanation. (He had only one thing left in his pack: the tin albatross. It was a case of mistaken identity: he'd thought his own reflection was his sister, returned home. We are an insular and distrustful clan: you're the first intruder my father didn't just shoot.)

Image by Aeferg
Commas: The Oxford comma, occurring after 'and' in lists, is to be used throughout the text, without exception (i.e. Mary enjoyed the cookies, the balloon animals, and the movie about hippos.) Otherwise, commas should be used to separate the different clauses of a sentence in a way that imitates the natural rhythm of speech, each comma representing a pause or emphasis that guides the reader through the clauses.

Compound Names: the first part of these should never be capitalized unless the sentence begins with the name. (“Good day, Mr der Große.” vs. “Der Große is not in, presently.”)

Ellipsis: the ellipsis should always be represented as the three-dot glyph (…), not a series of separate periods (...). In cases where a character trails off just at the end of a complete sentence, that sentence's end-punctuation precedes the ellipsis, and is separated by a space. (“Which banana do you think he used to do all that? …)

Em Dash: is used as a break in thought or speech—like this one—and then allows for a return to the matter at hand. It can also be used to cut off a speaker mid-sentence.

Et Cetera: should be abbreviated '&c.', not 'etc.'

Forward, Backward, Toward, Outward: modify nouns
Forwards, Backwards, Towards, Outwards: modify verbs, also represent definite direction

Fragments: fragmentary sentences should not be used outside of speech, along with sentences starting with 'and' or 'but'.

Indents: all poems, songs, and letters should be indented and italicized.

Italics: should be used for foreign words, emphasis, irony, titles of works, and names of vessels. In letters, songs, and poems, which are already italicized, no differentiation is made.

Question Mark: question marks are not necessary after rhetorical questions.

Bob the Angry Flower
Quotes and Apostrophes: double quotes are used for dialogue, while single quotes are used for a character in the book repeating the words of another character, for a statement mentioned in the text but not spoken, or for use-mention distinctions. (“Well,” said Reginald, “he used to say that ‘a horse is no competition for a redhead’, except he always pronounced it ‘hearse’.The best response Otis could produce to this news was a dismissive Who cares?) All quotes should also be ‘facing' the beginning and end of the quote (‘His’, “Hers”), as opposed to upright and neutral ('It', "Them"). The same rule applies to apostrophes, both in contractions and possessives. (No, I havent seen the dragons figurine collection). Possessives of plurals or words ending in ess should never have two esses. (Making omelets is Marcus only skill)

Quotes and end-sentence punctuation: if the end-sentence punctuation modifies the quote itself, it should be placed within the endquote. If it modifies a larger sentence which contains the quote, it should be placed outside the end quote. (“Goddamit,” said Frank, “this is no place to keep a Panzer!vs. But what, my dear reader, could the butler possibly have meant by his last words, ‘These hats will end us all'?) Two end-sentence punctuations should not be used on the same sentence, except in some special cases. (“Why is she leaping over my anvil shouting I'm a propane-fueled dancing machine!?”) The same rules apply to parentheses. In the rare instance of a double quote and single quote appearing side-by-side, there should be no space between them. (“She just kept saying to me ‘oh dear, but whatever can be wrong?’”)

The Fearsome 'Alot'
Semicolons: a semicolon is used to indicate a connection between two otherwise complete and separate sentences. Semicolons cannot be used with connectors like 'but' or 'and'. (He couldn't find his shoe; someone had left the dog out.) They can also be used in place of commas in lists which include compound phrasing. (There were only three left: James, the cook; Gustavia, the astrogator; and poor Trash-boat, the long-suffering cur.)

Subjunctive/Indicative Conditionals: 'If I was a Roman Legionnaire' means that it is physically possible for the speaker to be one, even though he is not one currently. 'If I were a Roman Legionnaire'  is used when it is not actually a possibility, just an idea. This is why we say 'If I were you', since it is not actually possible to be someone you are not (yet).

Titles: if the abbreviation for the title ends with the same letter as ends the full title, then no period is required (Mr Okuda, Dr Silva, Mme St Germaine). The period is necessary for all other instances. (Prof. Prachanda, the Rev. Cadwallader)

Brief Guide to Victorian British Spellings:

Use of the 'æ' and 'œ' ligature.
Anæmia Anæsthesia ArchæologyEncyclopædia

Nouns ending '-ense' in American usage take '-ence' instead.
DefenceLicence (noun only) OffencePretence

'OU' for 'O'.
Mould (mold)MoultMoustache

A few retain a 'C' where Americans use 'K'.

Verbs ending in '-ize/-yze' instead take '-ise/-yse'.
OptimiseParalysePenalisePractise (verb only)RealiseRecogniseStandardise

Many nouns ending in -or instead take -our.
Amour Armour BehaviourCandourClamourColour Demeanour
EndeavourFavourFlavourGlamour HarbourHonourHumour
SaviourSavour TumourValourVapourVigour

Some words use 'PH' instead of 'F'.
Cypher Sulphur

Many words use -re instead of -er.
Calibre CentreFibre Kilo(metre)LitreLustreManoeuvre

Some verbs take -t in the past tense instead of -ed.
DreamtLeant (on a chair)LearntLent (money)
Smelt SpeltSpiltSpoilt

Some nouns use -xion instead of -tion.
ComplexionConnexionInflexion Reflexion

Many words retain doubled consonants.
BannisterCancelledCalliper Counsellor Dialled EqualledFuelling

Others omit consonants we usually double.

Compound Words
Coast-lineTo-night Sea-front

Split Words
All Right Any ThingAny WhereEach OtherFor Ever

AgeingArse for AssArtefactAxeBaulkBehoveBlueish
BowlderCarcaseChampaigne Chaunt (Chant)ChequeredChilliCollectable
CosyDependantEnquiry (inquiry)GreyH'mH'mphHaulier (hauler)
Kerb (Street Curb)Loth (loath) M'mNett (i.e. profit)Orientate (orient)Pedlar (peddler)Pleaded (not Pled)
Plough (a field) PyjamasSpecialityStorey (of a building)TitbitTyreVice (not Vise)
Whisp (of smoke)

And lastly, a 'draught' of air, or water, but not for a draft of a letter.


  1. Can we expect more posts after a while?

    1. Yeah, I actually have a lot of drafts and notes, both for articles and reviews, but there are some larger things I need to take care of before I return to regular updating. Hopefully I'll be able to finish those up before too long.

  2. Seems like fantasy fans will have a busy coming year at the movies. All i know is the box office is going sprout, they are doomed otherwise. Guardians of the galaxy is the biggest movie of the year btw.

  3. And by the way, are you continuing your literary career? Your the only person i know that writes fantasy novels! Best wishes.

    1. Thanks, and yes, I'm still writing, though 'continuing my literary career' does sound much fancier.

  4. Great informative post! You post has helped me a lot to improve my writings style and include proper punctuation, syntax and sentence structure in my writing style.