The Shades of Milk and Honey style sheet

One of the things that I had heard other novelists talk about, but never seen, was the style sheet for their novels. The copyeditor for a given novel generates a style sheet to as a tool for the typesetter and proofreader to make sure that the novel is consistent. It includes a definition of house style, allowances for where the style deviates and spellings of character and place names.

My copy editor is Deanna Hoak and she has given me permission to post the stylesheet for Shades of Milk and Honey. If you are curious, feel free to download the pdf.

One of the things that fascinates me is that there are a few names and places in there that I have no memory of writing.  Like, what is the Spider’s Collonade Colonnade*? I also changed a character’s name mid-novel, which Deanna caught for me.

And this is only a tiny part of why a good copyeditor is worth her weight in gold. Or more, since Deana is slim…

*Deanna emailed me to let me know I’d just misspelled Colonnade here. See! A good copy editor see everything.
Edited to add: Deanna has two great posts about copy editing and style sheets. The Importance of Style Sheets and A Funny Note on Style Sheets

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12 Responses

  1. Steve Hall

    Thanks for sharing this! As a budding copyeditor (I need something to do in retirement!), this is a tremendous insight into the process. And as she already knows, I’m a huge fan of Deanna’s.

  2. Sherwood

    It’s interesting to see which Austen era words you kept, and which you didn’t–like head-ach, and ancle, and controul, among others.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      I originally had more, but when my editor, Liz Gorinsky, went through she flagged the ones that she thought would be confusing to a modern reader. For instance Miss Austen used “staid” as in “She staid at home,” but that spelling means something different now.

      1. Sherwood

        Totally makes sense. (And her own spelling changes over the years, too, as does her tendency to puncuate with em-dashes.)

  3. Yonatan Zunger

    Neat. I love seeing the back ends of things. 🙂

    (Wait, that came out horribly wrong… I’m not a proctologist, really)

    It’s probably horrible to mention it at this point, btw, but she marks “á la Oriental” under terms; I think you may want à la Oriental instead.

  4. John Rea-Hedrick

    Thank you for sharing this mini-view into the publishing world. It’s fascinating to me to have a glimpse into a manuscript through the eyes of a copyeditor. Most interesting to me was seeing an index of all the characters as they appear in the manuscript. It makes perfect sense to do this when you think about it and explains how Liz was able to identify the name change you mentioned.

    I keep my own personal list of “things to keep in mind” when I’m revising. This style sheet has given me a few more things to add to it!

    Thank you again for sharing this.

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