Thursday, June 21, 2012

This-n-That Thursday: Self-editing Tips: Novels vs. Articles

Along with working on full-length novels, many of us write articles for blogs or magazines (online or print). We cross over because we enjoy writing shorter and different pieces, and we’re also trying to build our platform/presence in the reading/publishing communities.

As a freelance editor, I see common mistakes made by writers who move between working on their manuscripts and publishing articles. You see, the guidelines/rules applied in those two worlds don’t always agree. 

When it comes to publishing novels, guidelines from The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and The Christian Writers Manual of Style (CWMS) are used. Guidelines for articles are found in the Associated Press Stylebook (AP). 

It would be nice and easier for us if these three books agreed on everything. But no—nada—they don’t. So, it’s up to us to make sure that we use the right style book and guidelines for what we’re writing.

I’ve given some examples of differences below. Do you have any others that you can share?

~ Dawn

Tip # 1: Commas

Novels and Short Stories
In a series of three or more elements, separate the elements by commas.

Example: Sharon made a salad that included fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and grapes.

Serial commas are not used unless leaving out the comma before and (or another conjunction) would cause confusion.

Example: Peter took his sons to the baseball game and fed them hotdogs, popcorn and peanuts.

Tip # 2: Titles to Works

Novels and Short Stories
Large works that can be subdivided into small components should be italicized (titles of books, movies, plays, and TV programs). Smaller, stand-alone works should be in quotation marks (song titles, short stories, poem titles, episode titles).

Example: The last book I read was Short-Straw Bride, the last movie I saw in the theater was The Avengers, and today’s Seriously Write post is “Self-editing Tips: Novels vs. Articles.”

All composition titles (including books, movies, plays, poems songs, TV programs, etc.)  should be in quotation marks (not italics). Exceptions are the Bible and reference materials (almanac, dictionaries, encyclopedias and hand books).

Example: I would like to see the movie “The Hunger Games.” Taylor Swift sings a beautiful and haunting song on the soundtrack called “Safe and Sound.”

Tip #3: Numbers

Novels and Short Stories 
Spell out whole numbers one through one hundred, round numbers (hundreds, thousands, millions), numbers referring to someone’s age, and any number beginning a sentence. Use numerals for all other numbers.

Example: When my dad turns eighty on July 28, grandkids from thousands of miles away will be attending his surprise party.

Spell out whole numbers below 10; use numerals for 10 and above. Use numerals for ages of people and animals.

Example: My 80-year-old dad has three children and six grandchildren, but if you include all the spouses, he has 17 children and grandchildren combined.