Welcome to Fiction+, a Shop Talk section for creative writers and those who edit and publish their work. Whether your focus is on novels and stories or creative nonfiction—or any genre that falls outside the boundaries of ordinary writing—you’ll find answers to your questions here.
Many of the rules and recommendations in The Chicago Manual of Style, originally developed for scholarly prose, apply to creative contexts also. But in Fiction+ we explore how these guidelines can be reinterpreted to take advantage of creative opportunities.
For an overview and retrospective of Fiction+, see “Advice for Fiction Writers (and Editors), Chicago-Style,” by Carol Saller.
The following list is organized according to subject. You can also find Shop Talk posts by entering key terms in our search box (add the word “fiction” to prioritize Fiction+).
Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences
Commas and Independent Clauses: A Creative Opening
Commas between Compound Predicates
Commas between Adjectives in Creative Writing
Is a Comma Needed to Introduce Dialogue?
Semicolons in Fiction
A Dash of Poetic License
En Dashes, the Editor’s Mark
“Can I Use Parentheses in Dialogue (or Not)?”
Exclamation Points in Creative Writing
“That hat!”: Punctuating How You Feel
“Hazel and I’s puppy”? When Fiction Meets Bad Grammar
“Had had”? Flashbacks and the Past Perfect
“Erg, no kidding?” Interjections in Creative Writing
How Grammar “Goofs” Work in Creative Writing
Gender-Neutral Pronouns in Creative Writing
“Whoever/Whomever” in Fiction: Which Should Your Character Use?
When to Delete “That”
Is the Subjunctive Mood Right for Fiction?
Capitalization and Italics
Abbreviations and Numbers
Dialogue and Narrative
Manuscript Preparation and Formatting
How to Format a Novel for Submission
Counting Pages or Words in a Manuscript Submission
When Page Numbers Don’t Help
What Makes a Chapter of a Novel?
How to Reorganize Book Chapters with a Click
Should Your Novel Have Chapter Numbers or Chapter Titles?
Does Your Novel Need a Table of Contents?
Paragraphing in Manuscripts for Submission
Space Breaks in Fiction
3 Easy E-Tricks for Writers, and 1 for Fun
Preparing an Audiobook for a Narrator Who Isn’t You
Copyediting and Being Copyedited
Sure, You Got A’s in English—But Do You Know Where Commas Go?
Do You Overstep When Editing Fiction? Three Easy Cures
When Friends Find Grammar “Errors” in Your Novel
Does Your Novel Need a Copyeditor before Submission?
Writing as Craft
Marketing and Social Media
Crediting and Fair Use
Photo: Woman Writing, by August Macke (1887–1914), courtesy Wikimedia Commons.