Woman Writing by August MackeWelcome to Fiction+, a new section of Shop Talk where we’ll be discussing Chicago style for creative writers and those who edit and publish their work. Genres will include not only novels and stories but also creative nonfiction and any work that might fall outside the boundaries of ordinary prose.

Most of the time we’ll be sticking closely to the rules and recommendations in The Chicago Manual of Style. But this is our chance to show how those guidelines can be reinterpreted to take advantage of creative opportunities. We’ll look for examples from the real world and invent some of our own. And from time to time we’ll be interviewing writers to get their take on things.

We plan to add new posts two or three times a month, so check back often—or sign up for our alerts.


Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences
Janet Burroway talks about Writing Fiction
“Can I Use Parentheses in Dialogue (or Not)?”
“Hazel and I’s puppy”? When Fiction Meets Bad Grammar
Commas and Independent Clauses: A Creative Opening
When Characters Speak: Formatting Dialogue
Sure, You Got A’s in English—But Do You Know Where Commas Go?
“That hat!”: Punctuating How You Feel
Do You Overstep When Editing Fiction? Three Easy Cures
A Dash of Poetic License
Preparing an Audiobook for a Narrator Who Isn’t You
Space Breaks in Fiction
Can I Put an iPhone in My Novel?
“Had had”? Flashbacks and the Past Perfect
Semicolons in Fiction
Numbers in Creative Writing
When Page Numbers Don’t Help
Formatting Text Messages in Fiction
Italics for Non-English Words in Fiction
How to Edit Blurbs
Abbreviations in Fiction
En Dashes, the Editor’s Mark
Crediting Images at an Author Website
How to “Take Back” an Online Error
Style and Grammar in Promotional Copy
Formatting Thoughts in Fiction
Paragraphing in Manuscripts for Submission
Who Gets Capitalized in a Novel?
8 Tips for Creative Writers on Facebook
How to Start a Novel
How to Format a Novel for Submission
Commas between Compound Predicates
Commas between Adjectives in Creative Writing
How Grammar “Goofs” Work in Creative Writing
Gender-Neutral Pronouns in Creative Writing
Prose, Interrupted: Signaling Breaks in Dialogue
Very Long Sentences in Fiction
Jack Hart Talks about Wordcraft
Epigraphs in Fiction
“Whoever/Whomever” in Fiction: Which Should Your Character Use?
When to Delete “That”
Counting Pages or Words in a Manuscript Submission
When Friends Find Grammar “Errors” in Your Novel
How to Mention a Real Newspaper, Book, or Song in Fiction
William Germano Talks about On Revision: The Only Writing That Counts
How to Reorganize Book Chapters with a Click
Does Your Novel Need a Table of Contents?
When to Capitalize after a Colon
Is the Subjunctive Mood Right for Fiction?
Exclamation Points in Creative Writing
3 Easy E-Tricks for Writers, and 1 for Fun
What Makes a Chapter of a Novel?
“Erg, no kidding?” Interjections in Creative Writing
When Your Novel Quotes a Real Source
Should Your Novel Have Chapter Numbers or Chapter Titles?
Does Your Novel Need a Copyeditor before Submission?
Is a Comma Needed to Introduce Dialogue?

Photo: Woman Writing, by August Macke (1887–1914), courtesy Wikimedia Commons