Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Which Style Manual Should the Fiction Author Use?

A couple of years ago, I entered a writing contest. I was surprised to see my grammar scores were low. How could it be? I'm a self-confessed Grammar Nazi. One judge was kind enough to point out I was using American Psychological Association style (APA), and fiction writers generally followed the Chicago Manual of Style.


In college I had taken nursing, not creative writing. All the papers I turned in were required to adhere to the APA style. Heck, I didn't even know there was another style. So began my journey relearning grammar. Curse you, serial comma!

I was sure I was doing so well when I entered a second writing contest. Low and behold, another judge gave me bad grammar scores. Super bad. I couldn't believe it. I had double checked all of my grammar with the Chicago website. Where had I gone wrong? Fortunately, the judge gave me a link to explore, and there I found yet another style manual, the Modern Language Association (MLA) style guide.


Confused as to what was expected of me, I turned to the Keeper of All Grammar Knowledge, Grammar Girl:

The quick answer? Chicago style is still best for fiction writers, but don't freak out if you have submitted something using APA or MLA. Your agent or editor will let you know which they prefer.

Okay, I know you're dying to correct my grammar. You're welcome to do so in the comment section. Just be sure to tell me which style guide you're using.

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