Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What Are Style Sheets?

BEE organized--use a style sheet!
I like to be organized, but to be honest, I don’t always have a full-blown style sheet for my novels. However, with my latest sci-fi I’m writing, I found it helpful to make one for consistency’s sake.

A style sheet is basically a glossary of terms used for a piece of writing, usually a novel. Open up a document, type in the words (in categories if you like), and save them. It’s that simple. Or use an Excel spreadsheet to have columns to keep track of things pertinent to each character or geographic location.

1. It often makes a copyeditor’s job easier; he or she will love you if you have everything organized into one document.
2. It helps you keep track of your worldbuilding—especially if you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, etc). Majorly helpful if your world is complex or extensive.
3. It helps you be CONSISTENT. After you nail down the spelling and words/expressions you want, you can do a search in the manuscript to check for consistency. Did you hyphenate a certain word—or use it as a compound word?
4. To make sure all your characters don’t sound alike, so they speak uniquely. Some characters may not use contractions. Others may say “gonna” instead of “going to.”

1. Coined words unique to your setting
2. Slang particular to the book, setting, or each character
3. Unique spellings appearing in the manuscript, or ones not familiar to the reader.
4. Expressions one character says repeatedly that no other character says
5. Nicknames for certain characters and who uses those nicknames
6. Names or titles of geographic locations
7. Distinct vocabulary for each character, depending on their education or background
8. Historical backgrounds and settings if you’re writing historical fiction
9. Magical incantations, spells, and rules
10. Your manuscript's particular symbolism and what each instance means. 

Do you use style sheets, and if so, do you find them helpful?
Do you think a style sheet would be good to use even for non-speculative fiction?


  1. Great idea! I get called out on my spelling all the time, but it's purposeful

  2. Great idea. I've done something similar with index cards.

  3. Great idea. I haven't used these yet, but I'm always backtracking to see how I styled or spelled a certain word.

  4. I do it partly. With worldbuilding, I always keep a glossary.But as for character vocabulary, that's all in my mind...and on the page. :)

  5. I do use one for characters and their dyalog, but beyond that, it's all in me noggin. Maybe not the best place to keep it considering the usual sleep deprivation, eh?

  6. with my horrible memory...I couldn't survive without it. How old is Adam. What color eyes does Tony have. How old is Mar.

    LOVE that bee

  7. I've heard of these but didn't really know what they were in relation to novels. I use what I call my story bible which has all my notes and details about things, although I don't list out specific spellings or words or slang or things like that. It pretty much has everything else though about characters, story, world, etc. :)

    Great idea to add those other items to the list.

  8. I do one, but I just call it my world-building bible :) I don't have all the things in it on your list though, that's really helpful. I'm bookmarking this page!

  9. I tend to rely on my working memory for these things more than I should, sometimes recording things in my "bible" for the book--a collection of research and character sheets and plot notes. But not consistently. I especially like the idea of tracking who uses which nickname for whom, and character catchphrases. Great idea!

  10. I have an extensive series I've created for both my adult and young adult series - they're both set in the same world and within the same family. I keep it all in OneNote and would be absolutely lost without it.


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