Does this Stylebook make me look fat?

Posted 29 July, 2009 by DLWhite in Writers Write 4 Comments

Fuel Your Writing (which, by the way, is a fantastic new site published by the Fuel Brand of sites.  Writing tips and guidelines and commiserations galore. Follow them at @fuelyourwriting or follow them on Facebook) published a new post today, which I think was written just for me, for two reasons:

a) I have a mild problem with buying writing books but not reading them. But really, I have an excuse and that is that they are packed up, and I can’t unpack them because I don’t have a place to unpack them TO. And SO. I haven’t cracked open a writing book in… it’s been a while, alright? Today I am going desk hunting or at the very least bookcase hunting and I hope I find something I want to bring home and set up and call my very own, so that I can have a writing spot and SPACE for books.

and

b) I need a style guide. I mean, there is really only so much that the internet can do for you, until you find 12 different sites with just as many differing viewpoints and you don’t know which to choose, and so you close your eyes and pick one and hope no one reads it and goes “…..is that right? Is that how… hmm. I would have thought… did you look that up???”

So, in order to avoid that whole thing, I need a style guide. And I’d like to have one because to be honest I haven’t used one since I was in college. Or maybe high school. My college was not really all that big on correct use of style.  *blush*  Thankfully my High School AP English Teacher, Mrs. Graham, insisted upon AP style, so it sort of comes naturally but like anything, lack of use and “interwebz speak” tends to dumb down  anything. Just like I feel like I have lost about 10 IQ points for every year I’ve been out of college. That’s a long time, because I’ve been out of college since 1996. I feel considerably dumb, some days.

So, I am reading through the post and I just don’t know which one I really need? The APA Style book?  The Strunk & White? The Chicago Manual of style? Does it MATTER? Don’t they all say the same thing, and it’s just a matter of how it reads? Certainly, the AP Guide to Punctuation won’t say that periods belong inside the quotations and the Chicago Manual will completely differ… right?

I think I am leaning toward getting one specifically for punctuation, and then either the AP or the Strunk & White, Elements of Style. And I really would like the recommended ‘Self Editing for Fiction Writers‘ because I most certainly edit more than I write. Maybe they have some tips for me.

So, my question to the community is- do you have a style book? Do you have two? Or three? Which do you use more? Do you use them ALL at varying times? What’s your favorite?

Parenthetically Yours,

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4 Responses to “Does this Stylebook make me look fat?”

  1. Thanks so much for the mention (and pingback) of FYW’s latest article! We’re so glad you enjoy the site. We’re always looking for contributors so if you’re interested, just drop us a line. :-)

  2. Meg

    I was an English major and pretty much all of my professors demanded we use MLA style. Then, when I declared a history minor, I found myself using Chicago for all of my term papers! I can still pull from both of those styles, but it’s kind of a weird mash-up in my brain.

    And since I’m now in journalism, I’ve had to learn AP style — from scratch. Oy. I’ve bookmarked a few sites to help me remember certain things, especially abbreviations, but I don’t find that I use them often in my own non-work-related writing. Still, AP is useful and pretty straightforward — it gets my vote! :)

    Also, I have a million books on writing, too — on “finding your voice,” creating a unique plot, making memorable characters, etc. etc. I’ve rarely opened any of them! My favorite of ALL-TIME, though, is Chris Baty’s “No Plot, No Problem” — it’s a companion for National Novel Writing Month in November. It’s outstanding, and I still pull tips from it all the time. It’s a fast read in an easy-to-follow format! You absolutely have to do NaNo in November — it’s such a great exercise!

    And speaking of writing, I just wrote you a novel :) heh
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Book review: ‘Evermore’ by Alyson Noel =-.

    • OOH! Thanks for your recommends. I saw this in my email but forgot to come here and reply. I think I really just need ONE good reference manual. What always trips me up is :

      *Commas after question marks, ie “You done with that?” he asked, tipping his head to the side. — I don’t need a comma after the question mark, but it looks weird without one. So now I tend to not have anything after a question because I don’t want it to look stupid

      * Numbers. Do I use one or 1? Twelve or 12? I know there is a rule about numbers under and over ten. I just need to be able to look up silly rules like that.

      I also need a thesaurus because apparently I don’t know any other name for that happy sound we make when something’s funny except for LAUGH. UGh. Sometimes I drive myself crazy.