They’re all words I use in my upcoming book, “Pastors’ Wives.”
I just received the copyedited manuscript of my book. If you’ve ever gotten one of these, you’ll understand why I was expecting a hard copy. A neat stack of pages printed on 8×10 paper, marked up in red and blue pencil.
What I got instead was a Microsoft Word document with tracked changes—and 19 (!) pdf pages of instructions on how not to screw it all up.
Seven of those pages were my very own style guide, based on the Chicago Manual of Style but customized for my book.
I’m familiar with style guides. I lived by a-plenty of them during my many years as a journalist. One thing I’ve learned is that while the rules of style at a given publishing house seem totally arbitrary to outsiders, within, they’re sacrosanct.
Take this one:
Capitalize/ital the in magazine titles (The New Yorker), but not in newspaper titles (the New York Times).
Why? That doesn’t make much sense to me, but fine. Or how about this:
Spell out the following:
- all whole numbers to one hundred, as well as rounded numbers above that (two hundred, BUT 250)
- all numbers in dialogue, unless to do so would be cumbersome
- times in quarter-hour increments (use a.m./p.m. with spelled-out times: seven-thirty a.m.; use a.m./p.m. with figures: 7:35 a.m.)
Not sure I’ll remember that, but okay.
This particular style guide contained a pleasant surprise: the copy editor had checked all the “spellings of all names referring to actual people, places, and titles.”
Here’s a small sampling below. The words are in fact a pretty good snapshot of the book. And possibly of my psyche.
BeDazzled (as in BeDazzler)
blond (adj, masculine/feminine)
blonde (n, feminine)
One True God
Son of God
Ten Commandments (BUT the ninth commandment)