Ashton Press Style Guide


There are quite a few good Style Books available in the book stores and some on the web. The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunks Elements of Style are two that I tend to use, along with several others. Both the Chicago and Strunks manuals can be found nowadays online. Here are some of the areas where I find myself having to make the most edits:

1.

"It's" means "it is." "Its" is the possessive form of "it."

2.

Ashton Press is an American publication, therefore we follow American rules of punctuation. Commas and periods are always (yes, I mean always, no exceptions, not a matter of preference, not a stylistic variation, always) placed inside of quotation marks. Exclamation points, semi-colons, colons and question marks are usually placed outside of quotation marks, unless they are part of the quoted text.

3.

Double quotation marks are always used for quotes, dialogue and setting off expressions and words. Single quotation marks are only used inside of double quotation marks. Yes, only inside of double quotation marks.

4.

There are several methods acceptable for indicating inner thoughts and dialogue. In our publication, we use the method of italicizing the thought.

5.

Epithets in place of character's names or pronouns are frowned upon. Think about the last professional novel you read that actually referred repeatedly to the characters in it by a label rather than their name.

6.

There are a number of epithets that are so overused in fandom that they have become cliches. Some examples are: "the little thief," "the computer expert," "the burly rebel," "the rebel leader," "the old man," "the ancient Immortal," etc. Please avoid these.

7.

We follow the following formats for our Blakes 7 zines: Orac, Liberator, Slave, London, Zen. Orac's dialogue is indicated enclosed in asterisks (*) and Zen's dialogue is indicated enclosed in plus (+) signs (this is a purely fannish convention).

8.

For our Highlander zines, we use the following formats: Watchers, Immortals, Quickenings, Holy Ground.

9.

Please pick one name to use for a character in your narrative and stick to it. I am not referring to dialogue, where it is certainly acceptable for different characters to use different appellations for people. For example, you may have Methos call Duncan "Mac," "MacLeod," "Duncan," or "Highlander," depending upon the occasion, but in your actual narrative you should stick to calling Duncan by the same name throughout, in most cases. Again, think of the last professional novel you might have read. Did the author switch back and forth between calling his hero by his first and last name? It's doubtful he did, because the reader would only end up confused.

10.

Fluctuating point of view is a problem I see quite often. You should pick a point of view for a scene and stick with it throughout the same scene. If you must switch pov, then you need a scene break. A hint regarding pov... pick one pov that you want to write from for the scene and stick with it. This means that everything in that scene is observed through the eyes of only the pov character. In other words, if Duncan is the pov character for the scene, then Duncan can not know what Methos is feeling unless he can a) see it on Methos’ face, b) Methos tells him, c) he’s just guessing, d) he’s clairvoyant.

11.

We follow the Associated Press style for indicating possession of names. In other words, it's "Methos'," not "Methos's" and "Darius'," not "Darius's."

12.

Although you may have been taught to insert two spaces at the end of each sentence, unless you are producing your manuscript on an old-style typewriter, you should only use one space between sentences. Two spaces were used in the past because a typewriter uses monospaced characters. Since you are producing your stories on a word processor now, you are, in essence, typesetting them. One space is all that is necessary between sentences. If you put in two, I simply have to take the extra spaces out. So, please save me the trouble, eh? Oh, and use a font like Times New Roman. If you use Courier, you are using a monospaced font and it's as if you were typing on a typewriter!

13.

Numbers should normally be spelled out, such as "five-thousand-year old man," not "5000 year old man."

14.

Ellipses consist of three periods. Not four. Not five. Definitely not six and more! They should also, like dashes, be used sparingly. In some cases, a comma or a period comes at the end of an ellipse. Ellipses usually have a thin space on either side but in my publications I simply use a space on either side.

15.

Dashes have no spaces on either side. If you have the ability to insert a proper Em Dash, please use it, otherwise, indicate it with two hyphens and I will format it into an Em Dash.

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