Style Sheets

EditingWe may not consciously think about style while we’re writing. We’re too busy getting the words down and telling the story. Still, in the back of our minds, we’re thinking, What style is best for this story?

I’m not talking about the genre, the make-up of the characters, how the plot plays out or how words are composed to create a feeling for readers. I’m talking about the style of mechanics we consciously decide upon to create the story.

I’ve not heard of other writers talk about style sheets, and I’ve never created one for any writing I’ve done for either fiction or non-fiction. But in the back of my brain are a few basic commands that come into play while I’m writing.

For example, when I’m writing my genealogy column, I avoid using too many contractions. I also use short paragraphs because in the newspaper world, columns are narrow, making a long paragraph look even longer. This, apparently, can tire a reader’s eyes (and interest) faster than short paragraphs.

When I write for children, I avoid complex text and punctuation. When I write fantasy, I’m more likely to use words such as goblet instead of glass, spirtle instead of wooden spoon. Basically they are the same things, yet one conjures images of fantasy whilst the other takes us to the kitchen where dirty dishes await.

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