Committed to…. Changing?

“Charles’s favorite book, the one about Claudius’s epic quest to destroy Carlos’s magic hat, is missing.”

For the last thrity years I’ve had sentences like that corrected. No, not because it’s long and confusing, but because of all the ‘s –  but no more!

I am vindicated!

Okay, not really vindicated, but they have “changed the rules”, as they do periodically.  Or at least, the The Chicago Manual of Style: 16th Edition has.  According to Mary Keeley of the Books & Such Literary Agency, the goal was on consistency with this edition, hence the final vindication of the possessive ‘s’ after names that end in ‘s’.  There were lots of other changes, too. Commas can now follow other punctuation (how would that work?), website is one word, prepositions in headlines are now always lowercase, no matter the importance of the word, and more.

What’s my opinion on it? Hm. They say that as writer’s we should keep up on every subtle change in order to show our commitment to our readers and our craft. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of good grammar or punctuation, but I wonder how many average readers buy – or read – The Chicago Manual of Style? Is it a commitment to our readers and our craft, or a commitment to proving to the other authors/industry people that we’re “with it”? After all, how many average readers  would know whether website had been officially ruled one word or two? Until you read this, did you?

You can read the rest of the article here:

(Special thanks to Barbara G. Tarn for finding the link to this article!)

15 thoughts on “Committed to…. Changing?

  1. mari June 6, 2011 / 12:16 am

    Seriously I had been using Lucas’ and not Lucas’s because Lucas’ looked better.

    • Joleene Naylor June 6, 2011 / 12:41 am

      Yeah, the s’ has been “correct for “yonks” – though that words isn’t. LOL! 😉

  2. Rose Gordon June 6, 2011 / 12:39 am

    I’m going to pretend I never saw this article! I’m finishing up a three book series that has a man named Marcus in all three books. Like Mari, as a personal preference I perfer Marcus’, but at the same time, though we as writers are supposed to be up-to-date on this type of stuff, I wonder how many of our readers are. Moreover, I wonder how many will think to try and correct us via reviews that we’re breaking grammar rules and need an editor. This could turn into one of those lose-lose situations, I think.

    But as a side note, I’m glad you found the vindication you’ve been looking for for thirty years!

    • Joleene Naylor June 6, 2011 / 12:44 am

      Okay, I will swear blindly that you never saw it – I never saw you here! Rose who?

      I think some people will just nit pick no matter how “on top” of things anyone is. Up to now the s’ has been correct so what? Does that mean that everything published before is now incorrect? Or does it mean all grammar nit pickers are obligated to check the published on date?

      I just like double letters. I blame my mother. Joleene. All those e’s make me feel like the rest of the world needs extra letters. (July looks better with 2 ‘l’s!)

      • julihoffman June 6, 2011 / 4:04 am

        Hmm…then I’m missing a letter or more in my name. LOL Oh well, there was room enough for the “E” in my middle name. I suppose we could always “fix” our names in a later publication. 😉

  3. julihoffman June 6, 2011 / 3:59 am

    Oy to the Vey!!!!! I have enough trouble with missing words and no-nos even with spell check, etc. YIKES! LOL As a side note, I used to get in trouble in school for this. I like “Louis’s favorite wife” better than “Charles’ oldest son.”

    • Joleene Naylor June 8, 2011 / 6:54 am

      Well now we are in the right with all of our ‘s 😉 LOL!

  4. janetsyasnitsick June 6, 2011 / 5:51 pm

    I was a former language arts teacher and journalist. The possessive “s” (which shows ownership) has been an optional grammar rule for years. What I mean is it is acceptable to use the tradition Charles’ or the use the new way Charles’s. However, since most people grew up with the traditional I would opt to do that one. When I was a reporter five years ago, Web site was written as that not one word. Is it different today? I do not know but will start paying attention when I read the paper. The Chicago Manual of Style has differences from the Modern Language Association (MLA) method. Most college students use MLA while nursing and other disciplines use CMS.

    • Joleene Naylor June 8, 2011 / 7:01 am

      I think that’s often the problem is it depends on what guide the writers are using. I’ve seen website as both, though the Chicago Manual of Style is now saying it is one word, apparently.

  5. Lauralynn Elliott June 6, 2011 / 6:04 pm

    I like the s’s better because that’s how people actually say it out loud. At least the people I know do. LOL

  6. Ruth Ann Nordin June 6, 2011 / 11:06 pm

    You know, this brings up an excellent point. People who think they know the correct way probably miss the fact that there is more than one correct way. So what does this lead to? Authors who get irate and leave nasty reviews on other authors’ books, thinking they are “saving the poor reader the dreadful fate of wasting their intellect on lesser quality work”. I hate getting the emails from writers (often aspiring) who believe they know all the rules and site me something that I know is optional. It’s bad enough dealing with these people on reviews, but then they come into your inbox as if they are an expert. Funny thing is, when I check on them, they either haven’t published or sold enough copies of their books to have someone tell them their way isn’t correct. I don’t have trouble with writers who have gotten the 1 and 2-star reviews clowning their editing. I only get grief from those who haven’t. Perhaps it takes seeing the absurdity of this whole “there is only one correct way” mentality to be able to admit other writers aren’t as bad as they’ve been saying.

    Thanks for posting. And I’ve seen it both ways: Charles’ and Charles’s. However, I’ve never seen web site. At least I don’t remember seeing that one, but I see the logic in it.

    • Joleene Naylor June 8, 2011 / 7:04 am

      Yeah, I’ve noticed it is other writers, often who do badly in sales, who are the nastiest. I guess it might come from a “I did ALL this work and THEY didn’t so why are THEY selling?” kind of bitterness. I’ve read books – both indy and traditional – that were a mess and thought “wow, how have they made it so far?” but would never contemplate sending them messages or leaving nasty reviews about it. I don;t read a book to see how close they stick to the rules, I read it for the story 😉 No one criticizes the grammar in a movie, after all!

  7. David Knight June 7, 2011 / 7:20 pm

    Thanks for the article Jo! Interesting indeed…. bizarrely I always thought website was actually one word…. but hey that’s about the first thing ive had right for years ha ha… You are all a fountain of knowledge… thanks guys!

    • Joleene Naylor June 8, 2011 / 6:55 am

      yeah I usually write it as one because I am a fan of compound words 😉 So hey, we’ve been right and didn’t know it!

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