Style sheets

Book Club Buddy is a great site where you can read interviews with writers and find out information about their books. I recently did a little interview with them and you have until Wednesday at midnight to enter a contest where you can win a free (free!) copy of my book. Head on over for details!

photo(I saw my book at the library for the first time ever on the weekend, so I took a photo.)

Recently Lindsey and Samantha posted fascinating entries about their short story collections: lists of characters, first sentences, word count, etc. I love reading these details – there’s something so satisfying about systematically breaking down a bunch of words into something tangible like that. I currently don’t have enough short stories on the go to do a similar sort of summary (the rough-rough-rough drafts slowly taking shape on my computer aren’t ready for it) and I’m still feeling a little too superstitious about my novel to talk about it too much (although the first sentence of the novel is from the story “Swimming Lessons” in Bats or Swallows and goes: My father drowned in the Aegean Sea, fifty nautical miles northeast of the port of Piraeus.)

Reading their lists reminded me of the style sheet for my book. I wasn’t familiar with style sheets until the late editing stages of Bats or Swallows, but I thought it was such a neat little document. It basically formalizes the little quirks used in the book to make sure they’re consistent throughout.

For example:

Special symbols
European Diacritics (é, è, etc.)

Numbers
all numbers are spelt out with the exception of:
5×10 foot and 10×30 feet in “Art History”
3:15 in “Bats or Swallows”

Canadian spelling (double vowels, consonants, etc.)

Special notes
TGAOTU and GATOU in “A Secret Handshake”
Supreme Being “A Secret Handshake”
Being Prepared in “Baby Teeth”
Straight Edge “What Counts”
Ways To Feel Better in “Bats or Swallows”
Letters capitalized, not spelled out: A, O, Z in “Hushpuppies” and O, W in “Swimming Lessons”

And then there’s a kind of glossary broken down by letter. My favourites are

F
Fair Isle
the Falls (Niagara)
FedEx
fetus
Fibonacci
Fourth of July
Francophone
freak-out
Freemason
fresh-faced
frosty

P
pancit
passive-aggressive
pay phone
photo shoot
polyamoury
pothead
Prime Minister
puffed-up
purple-tinted

S
Sanskrit
sceptical
sex life
sing-songy
shivasana
shoo-in
soulmates
spycam
squelchy
strip mall
subdivision
Swiss Army knife

It’s strange, but from these brief notes and lists of letters, you can infer a lot about the kind of things I write about in the book.

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