Style Sheet for the Fiction Writer
What They are and How They Can Benefit You
If you are writing fiction, spend the time to create a style sheet. Style sheets are informal documents that you can create for yourself, an editor, or a publisher to indicate your style preferences.
For instance, if you do not want a serial comma used in your writing, you would indicate this on the style sheet. A serial comma is the comma that comes before the “and” in a series of listed items. For example: Apples, bananas, pears, and oranges.
What is included?
- Style preferences like using the serial comma, or not
- Apples, bananas, pears, and oranges (serial comma used) vs. Apples, bananas, pears and oranges (serial comma not used)
- Preference for styling numbers, or dates
- Capitalization preferenecs
- And more…
Style sheets save time in the editing process because you are telling the editor up front what you prefer. They will not have to contact you as often to ask questions about what you prefer. It is also helpful for them to make changes in the document that you mistakenly forgot, ie: eye color not right from one chapter to another.
Example of a style sheet
Advantages of Style Sheets
So, you don’t need to use a style sheet when you are writing fiction novels, novellas, etc. That much is probably obvious. However, since style sheets are so easy to fill out. Why not?
A few advantages are:
- Maintain consistency in your style preferences
- serial commas, punctuation, typesetting, etc.
- Keep characters straight
- eye color, relationships, etc.
- Spelling of character names and places are correct every time
- Michelle vs. Michele, Rachael vs. Rachel,
- And my favorite–>Keeping everything consistent when working on a series
- because who needs that stress 🙂
If you’d like a free template for a style sheet, character grid, places and institutions grid, and word list, click on the picture below. It’ll take you to the main author resources page where you can request your complimentary template.
What’s included in the free style pack?
- Style Sheet
- See example above.
- Character Grid
- Include character name, physical description, relationships, personality, flaws, and any other information important to the character.
- Places and Institutions Grid
- List geographic places with correct spellings–either real or made up, institutions/buildings in the story with correct spellings–either real or made up.
- Word List
- Include any unique words and spellings that are integral to the story and that are used multiple times. This should include any capitalizations or non-capitalizations you want associated with these words.
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