The Latest Style Trends

Editorial style, of course. ūüôā

For my work, I don’t use the Associated Press Stylebook¬†that often, so when they announce a change in their style, I don’t pay much attention. But this one is kind of a big deal because the two terms that are changing are used all the time. So according to AP, from now on, we’re not supposed to capitalize “Internet” and “Web” anymore because have become¬†generic terms.

I don’t really mind lowercasing “web” because I prefer “website” instead of the clunky “Web site” (my company’s style guide uses that) or the even uglier “Website.” There are also terms like “webinar” and “webpage” (or “web page”) that make more sense¬†lowercased and generic, so that part makes me happy. It doesn’t make sense to use both lowercase “website” and capital “Web” in the same document, which some clients prefer.

But I don’t know about lowercasing “internet.”¬†I’m in the habit of always capitalizing it because it’s the Internet. You can practically hear the capital I when someone says it. I don’t think I ever hear anyone refer to just “internet” or “an internet” generically. I would think that a company’s own corner of the big Internet that’s shared just within that company would be an intranet, but I could be wrong. And of course, saying “internets” makes you sound like a lolcat.

So it doesn’t seem like “internet” is used to describe anything other than that big linked network of online sites. I don’t hear people use it in any other way. We don’t describe our real-life network of friends and acquaintances as an “internet” unless we’re literally referring to our social networking sites. But over time, terms do usually become more generalized, and two-word terms like “web site” (or “Web site”) do tend to first be hyphenated (web-site), then get smushed into one word (“website”) as time passes.

I’m not good with change, but we’ll see how this style trend plays out.

Breaking Up with Star Wars

The new Star Wars movie is coming out next month, and the hype is intense. In the wake of all this excitement stands a very bitter George Lucas, who has announced that he is “done” with Star Wars. Many creative people wish they had the problem of selling their brainchild to Disney for billions of dollars, then no longer having any control over it or any rights to it. Seems like Lucas should just be happy with his money and stop whining.

I understand where he’s coming from, though. In this article, Lucas says that Star Wars is “actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems – it’s not about spaceships.” Others involved wanted to take the franchise in a direction opposite from Lucas’s vision, so he let them do that. From the standpoint of a creative person, it is awful to give up your magnum opus and watch it become something you never intended.

Yes, George Lucas has tons of haters who think that he destroyed the series by creating Episodes 1, 2, and 3, which were supposedly horrible. I was 10 years old when Episode 1 came out, and it was my first Star Wars movie. Once I had seen all the movies in the series, I ended up liking the prequels more than the originals (probably because I didn’t grow up with the originals). So I’m not one of the haters, but I do understand that once you put your work in the public eye and it becomes as insanely popular as Star Wars is, it becomes less yours and more the world’s. People become emotionally attached to it, and they project their own ideas onto it. Perhaps George Lucas did not take that into account when he made those remarks about someone else “doing their own thing” with his work. After a lifetime of creating and being immersed in your own universe, it must be easy to¬†forget that it technically isn’t your own after you’ve given it away.

But the haters forget that if it wasn’t for Lucas, they wouldn’t have any Star Wars at all.

Short, Sweet Synopsis

One of the biggest struggles I have (totally a first-world problem) is trying to sum up my unpublished novels in a short, sweet synopsis that will draw the reader in and make him or her want to read the whole book.

Writing advice/how-to books will tell you to look for examples of TV show and movie descriptions on Netflix and the back cover blurbs of popular books in your genre. These can help you build a short, professional-sounding pitch.

BookPage can also help. It’s a free (yay, free stuff!) magazine distributed by the local library that features reviews and descriptions of new and forthcoming books. (The online version is here.) Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast was described with this simple sentence:

When a 9-year-old boy known for crying wolf disappears, the villagers of Three Pines are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

You can tell a lot about the story from reading this: you know the characters, the setting, and the conflict. You can guess at the genre (possibly suspense or mystery based on a fable, which could include some fantasy or supernatural elements).¬†It’s¬†just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity. I kinda want to read this book if the library purchases it.

Crafting the perfect synopsis is a kind of art, not unlike writing a haiku. Thankfully, there are tons of examples out there to guide you.