Writing a World Building Style Guide

Murphy, god of strange luck and chaos-for-your-own-good, seems to be sending me mixed signals concerning what I should be writing… I thought I should be expanding a certain short story, since it’s a tie-in with my clone’s current WIP, but the photo accompanying this post from Corey-the-human about keeping a series bible suggests maybe I should be working on backstory for “that novel” instead. An old book and an iron key? Really? On the other hand, the incident this photo reminds me of occurred in Tennessee, which is an important location for the clone’s WIP, too, so… I’m confused. And joking, mostly. But, joking and weirdness aside, if you’re a writer — especially if you’re a writer of SF/F of any flavor — you ought to read this post in its entirety.

Quintessential Editor

Bible_and_Key_Divination.jpgToday, I wanted to talk about style guides.  No, not the Chicago Manual of Style.  I’m talking about self-generated style guides that serve as a bible for your universe(s).  I’ve been working with the Human Legion recently, and I’ve spent some time organizing world buildings notes spanning multiple authors.  Different authors, writing different series, but in the same universe.

The solution, for me, was apparent — compile the notes and make a style guide to ensure consistency.  This was easier said than done.  Let’s talk about how to make one, what it can do, and potential information to keep within it.

A style guide, for those of you unfamiliar, is a tool to create consistency throughout a story, world, or universe.  It is tremendously helpful to an editor, because it will show them invented words, character information, and world background. We’ve talked about World Builder’s Disease before, a style guide…

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Writing a World Building Style Guide

  1. J.R. Handley says:

    Sadly, I was the muse…. the reason he was so overworked. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s funny you noticed the key, I actually thought of you when I found the image. Must a strange hermit connection.

    Liked by 1 person

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