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AP Stylebook Updates: Singular 'They' Now Acceptable

AP Stylebook 2017 updates

Every year, editors announce big stylebook changes at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual meeting. It's where we first heard in 2011 that the Associated Press would no longer use a hyphen in email and in 2016 that the Associate Press would lowercase internet. Yesterday, the Chicago Manual of Style announced it would adopt these two styles as well, and now today, the AP is leading the charge again with these changes:

Gender-Related Entries

The presenters, Paula Froke (special liaison editor) and Colleen Newvine (product manager), saved the biggest news for last, but we'll start with it here:

singular they: The AP Stylebook now allows writers to use they as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence as plural would be overly awkward or clumsy. Example: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's gender identity isn't what's in their record.

The style also allows writes to pair they with everyone in similar situation.

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

his, her. AP style used to be to use he when gender is not known. This entry now refers to the entry on they, them, their.

homophobia, homophobic. Acceptable in broad references or in quotations to the concept of fear or hatred of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. In individual cases, be specific about observable actions; avoid descriptions or language that assumes motives. (The previous version of the Stylebook recommended against using these words.)

LGBT. LGBTQ. Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other forms such as LGBTQIA and other variations are also acceptable with the other letters explained.

gender. The editors began the presentation by unveiling a huge new entry on gender including new entries on cisgender, intersex, transgender, and more.

Other Entries

Columbus Day. Added Indigenous Peoples Day reference, plus a separate Indigenous Peoples Day entry: A holiday celebrating the original inhabitants of North America, observed instead of Columbus Day in some U.S. localities. Usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding wish the federal Columbus Day holiday.

courtesy titles. In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. The presenters gave the example that it would still be proper to refer to Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Obama if the courtesy title is needed for clarity.

cyberattack. One word. Often overused. A computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption. The presenters said they consulted with cybersecurity experts who felt strongly about the "physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption" part.

Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Use the acronym DACA sparingly and only on second reference. Do not use DREAMers or dreamers to describe DACA recipients.

esports. As with frequent flier, the AP consulted people in the esports industry before deciding the recommend spelling esports without a hyphen.

fact checks, fake news. Holding politicians and public figures accountable for their words often requires reporting or research to verify facts that affirm or disprove a statement, or that show a gray area. Fact-checking also is essential in debunking fabricated stories or parts of stories done as hoaxes, propaganda, jokes or for other reasons, often spread widely on the internet and mistaken as truth by some news consumers.

Fake news may be used in quotation marks or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon for deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.

However, do not label as fake news specific or individual news items that are disputed. If fake news is used in a quote, push for specifics about what is meant. Alternative wording includes false reportserroneous reportsunverified reports, questionable reportsdisputed reports and false reporting, depending on the context. 

flyer, flier. AP changed the spelling from frequent flier to flyer after reviewing airline industry websites and determining this was the spelling most commonly used in the industry. The audience seemed happy about this change. Flyer is also the spelling for paper handouts, but flier is still proper for the phrase take a flier, meaning to take a big risk.

Oxford Comma (aka serial comma). The new Stylebook emphasizes that clarity is the bottom line. Although the normal style is to avoid the serial comma, use one if it is needed for clarity. This is not a style change, but a clarification because the editors noted that some writers were confused.

More. In some cases, the presenters noted that there will be new entries, but they didn't share the entire entries. Expect to see new information on these topics when the new AP Stylebook is released: immigration (they will bring immigration-related entries that were scattered throughout the book together into one entry), cliches, television sets (based on input from the technology editor).

Thank you to all the people at #ACES2017 who tweeted from the presentation and to ACES for livestreaming (one word!) the presentation.

The new print AP Stylebook will be available May 31, 2017. Note that the AP Stylebook is updated every year, but the Chicago Manual of Style is updated less often. The last Chicago update was in 2010.

Wilson

Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel Wilson (Drawn and Quarterly, 2010) has been adapted into a feature film starring Isabella Amara, Laura Dern, and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Craig Johnson, the film follows the comedic story of a lonely middle-aged man who reconnects with his estranged wife to search for their daughter who was given up for adoption.

Wilson

Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel Wilson (Drawn and Quarterly, 2010) has been adapted into a feature film starring Isabella Amara, Laura Dern, and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Craig Johnson, the film follows the comedic story of a lonely middle-aged man who reconnects with his estranged wife to search for their daughter who was given up for adoption.

Wilson

Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel Wilson (Drawn and Quarterly, 2010) has been adapted into a feature film starring Isabella Amara, Laura Dern, and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Craig Johnson, the film follows the comedic story of a lonely middle-aged man who reconnects with his estranged wife to search for their daughter who was given up for adoption.

Wilson

Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel Wilson (Drawn and Quarterly, 2010) has been adapted into a feature film starring Isabella Amara, Laura Dern, and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Craig Johnson, the film follows the comedic story of a lonely middle-aged man who reconnects with his estranged wife to search for their daughter who was given up for adoption.

Find Out When It’s a Good Idea to Use a Made-Up Setting

Find Out When It's A Good Idea to Use A Made-Up SettingToo often, writers take the old adage “write what you know” to mean they should never do anything so rash as to, you know, make stuff up. At the very least, shouldn’t you adhere to reality whenever a corresponding reality exists, as, for example, when it comes to the choice between a real-life setting and a made-up setting?

The answer is: it depends.

But let’s get something out of the way right off. There is absolutely nothing amiss with creating a made-up setting for your story—and this holds true whether you’re writing fantasy set within an entirely imaginary world or very realistic fiction set within our world. It doesn’t even mean you can’t create made-up settings within real settings—or alter bits of your real setting to suit the needs of your story.

Writers will need to choose between specifying a real-life setting or slapping a name on a made-up one. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, all of which should be considered before making a decision.

6 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Real-Life Setting

1. A Real-Life Setting Is Instantly Recognizable

Even if readers have never visited Yorkshire, most will recognize the name and conjure up certain associations that will help them fill in the blanks and build the setting within their imaginations.

2. A Real-Life Setting Offers Built-In Verisimilitude

The very fact that your setting is a real place gives readers a firmer belief in it and all the story events that happen there.

3. A Real-Life Setting Requires Less Brainstorming

Because the facts are already there for you to draw upon, you won’t have to worry about creating a real-life setting from scratch. All you have to do is record what you see or learn.

4. Real-Life Settings Require More Research

If you choose to forego the creative demands of creating a brand-new setting, you will bear a greater responsibility for establishing an accurate portrayal.

5. A Real-Life Setting Demands Accuracy

Get something wrong, and some reader, somewhere, will notice.

6. A Real-Life Setting May Invite Criticism

You’ll also have to deal with the possibility that real-life people living in your real-life setting may not like how you’ve portrayed them or their home.

2 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Made-Up Setting

1. A Made-Up Setting Frees You From the Burden of the Facts

If you want to maintain the verisimilitude of a real-life town, but need to tweak a few minor details, all you have to do is rename it. If you want to get a little wilder (as you almost certainly will if you’re writing speculative fiction), a made-up setting gives you the power to alter whole swatches of reality. To some extent, all stories include made-up settings, even if it’s only a street or a house.

2. A Made-Up Setting Demands Active Creativity

With the power of total creation comes total accountability. Because even the most realistic of made-up settings will always lack the added punch of being real, your attention to detail must be even more obsessive than usual.

***

In most instances, the choice between a real-life setting and a made-up setting won’t significantly affect your plot (for example, Batman could just as easily have lived in New York City as its made-up doppelgänger Gotham). But, in application, the decision will affect every page of your story. Take time early on to consider if grounding your story in a real-life setting is worth the research. Or would the freedom of a made-up setting be worth the potential sacrifice of authenticity? The choice is up to you.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Have you ever used a made-up setting in your story? Why did you choose it? Tell me in the comments!

The post Find Out When It’s a Good Idea to Use a Made-Up Setting appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

Find Out When It’s a Good Idea to Use a Made-Up Setting

Find Out When It's A Good Idea to Use A Made-Up SettingToo often, writers take the old adage “write what you know” to mean they should never do anything so rash as to, you know, make stuff up. At the very least, shouldn’t you adhere to reality whenever a corresponding reality exists, as, for example, when it comes to the choice between a real-life setting and a made-up setting?

The answer is: it depends.

But let’s get something out of the way right off. There is absolutely nothing amiss with creating a made-up setting for your story—and this holds true whether you’re writing fantasy set within an entirely imaginary world or very realistic fiction set within our world. It doesn’t even mean you can’t create made-up settings within real settings—or alter bits of your real setting to suit the needs of your story.

Writers will need to choose between specifying a real-life setting or slapping a name on a made-up one. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, all of which should be considered before making a decision.

6 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Real-Life Setting

1. A Real-Life Setting Is Instantly Recognizable

Even if readers have never visited Yorkshire, most will recognize the name and conjure up certain associations that will help them fill in the blanks and build the setting within their imaginations.

2. A Real-Life Setting Offers Built-In Verisimilitude

The very fact that your setting is a real place gives readers a firmer belief in it and all the story events that happen there.

3. A Real-Life Setting Requires Less Brainstorming

Because the facts are already there for you to draw upon, you won’t have to worry about creating a real-life setting from scratch. All you have to do is record what you see or learn.

4. Real-Life Settings Require More Research

If you choose to forego the creative demands of creating a brand-new setting, you will bear a greater responsibility for establishing an accurate portrayal.

5. A Real-Life Setting Demands Accuracy

Get something wrong, and some reader, somewhere, will notice.

6. A Real-Life Setting May Invite Criticism

You’ll also have to deal with the possibility that real-life people living in your real-life setting may not like how you’ve portrayed them or their home.

2 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Made-Up Setting

1. A Made-Up Setting Frees You From the Burden of the Facts

If you want to maintain the verisimilitude of a real-life town, but need to tweak a few minor details, all you have to do is rename it. If you want to get a little wilder (as you almost certainly will if you’re writing speculative fiction), a made-up setting gives you the power to alter whole swatches of reality. To some extent, all stories include made-up settings, even if it’s only a street or a house.

2. A Made-Up Setting Demands Active Creativity

With the power of total creation comes total accountability. Because even the most realistic of made-up settings will always lack the added punch of being real, your attention to detail must be even more obsessive than usual.

***

In most instances, the choice between a real-life setting and a made-up setting won’t significantly affect your plot (for example, Batman could just as easily have lived in New York City as its made-up doppelgänger Gotham). But, in application, the decision will affect every page of your story. Take time early on to consider if grounding your story in a real-life setting is worth the research. Or would the freedom of a made-up setting be worth the potential sacrifice of authenticity? The choice is up to you.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Have you ever used a made-up setting in your story? Why did you choose it? Tell me in the comments!

The post Find Out When It’s a Good Idea to Use a Made-Up Setting appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

Chicago Updates: Stop Capitalizing 'Internet' and Hyphenating 'Email'

Chicago Manual of Style Updates 2017

Big style news often breaks at the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) meeting, and this year is no exception. Carol Fisher Saller, the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style's online Q&A and @SubvCopyEd on Twitter, gave a presentation this morning about updates that will appear in the 17th edition of Chicago that will come out in September, and she didn't waste any time getting to the good stuff:

Internet will be lowercase.

Email will lose the hyphen.

People in the room reported that attendees cheered the news:

 

The 17th edition will also have recommended citation styles for Facebook and Twitter and other types of social media posts. 

This article will be updated if Saller announces Chicago is striking whom from the lexicon or accepting the singular they.

 

Chicago Updates: Stop Capitalizing 'Internet' and Hyphenating 'Email'

Chicago Manual of Style Updates 2017

Big style news often breaks at the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) meeting, and this year is no exception. Carol Fisher Saller, the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style's online Q&A and @SubvCopyEd on Twitter, gave a presentation this morning about updates that will appear in the 17th edition of Chicago that will come out in September, and she didn't waste any time getting to the good stuff:

Internet will be lowercase.

Email will lose the hyphen.

People in the room reported that attendees cheered the news:

 

The 17th edition will also have recommended citation styles for Facebook and Twitter and other types of social media posts. 

This article will be updated if Saller announces Chicago is striking whom from the lexicon or accepting the singular they.

 

Elena Passarello

“The thing when you write about pop culture—especially pop culture that you’re interested in—that you have to avoid, is just saying ‘isn’t this cool?’ again and again...I realized that I needed to put myself into it.” Elena Passarello talks about writing creative nonfiction and reads from her first book, Let Me Clear My Throat (Sarabande Books, 2012). Passarello’s Animals Strike Curious Poses (Sarabande Books, 2017) is featured in Page One in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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