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The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

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The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby The Caretaker » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:18 pm

The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”
by Stephen Minch

The attached writing style guide below was composed to answer common and not so common questions from authors. The entries are in no particular order, and deal with all kinds of grammatical and stylistic snags an author of magic literature can get caught up in.

We post it here, in the hope that it will make the process easier for both established and new writers in our field.
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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby RajMadhok » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:55 am

Fabulous and useful info for those of us interested in writing and editing. I wish I'd read this years ago. Another visible reason why Hermetic Press is so good at publishing fine books.

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby gordonmeyer » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:43 pm

Wow, thanks so much for posting this. As a writer, this made my heart flutter. I didn't think it was possible for me to hold Stehen's work in more esteem, but this just raised the bar.

One thing that I'd add is a discussion of "gaff" vs "gimmick." These two words are often sloppily used, in my opinion.

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby StephenMinch » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:18 pm

Hi, Gordon,

Gaff vs. gimmick is a very interesting question. Because most writing in magic is done by people eager to share ideas, who are often not skilled writers, definitions and usage of magic jargon are often loose. Even careful writers can slip, through bad habits, when using these words. I'm guilty of this as well. The best distinctions I'm aware of were formulated by T. A. Waters in his excellent Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians.

Thomas defined a gaff as a common object that has been physically altered in some secret way to bring about a magical goal; e.g., a stripper deck.

He defined a gimmick as a secret device never seen by the audience, which contributes to a magical effect; e.g., a reel.

To these two categories we should add a third: the fake or feke. Thomas defined these as visible devices, but with secret natures or uses that are unrecognized by the audience; e.g., thumb tips, mirror glasses. He judges feke as "an obsolete and affected spelling". I would differ with him on this point. I think this older spelling helps to differentiate the specific meaning of the word within magic's literature from the broader meanings understood by the public. I wish he were able to debate the point with me.

As with most things, there will be exceptions; items that can be plausibly put into more than one of these three classifications. But Thomas’s definitions provide excellent guidelines.
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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby TylerWilson » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:02 pm

Thanks, Caretaker!

As someone who's proofed more books/booklets than I'd care to recall, I can only hope this gets into the hands of EVERYONE who even remotely contemplates putting their thoughts down onto paper. And they should read it before they begin work, rather than trying to apply a style guide at the end to "fix" shoddy work, like I've sadly seen on a few occasions.

I simply cannot recommend Stephen's approach enough, it is the very definition of essential reading!

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby gordonmeyer » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:33 pm

Thanks, Stephen, I think the "gimmick" vs "gaff" guidelines you described are great and are mostly easily to apply.

To further expand the idea of a style guide, a list of common misspellings (and homonyms) might be useful. Things like "slight of hand" and "faint" instead of "feint" are examples. Both seem common in the YouTube generation, and it doesn't help that spellcheckers insist on changing "gaff" to "gaffe," which has burned me more than once.

For what it's worth, I completely agree that "feke" should be preserved. Sure, it's jargon, but once the meaning is known it adds clarity, as you described.

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby Curtis Kam » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:29 pm

Stephen, your style guide has ruined my life, but I'm a better man for it, so thanks. I'm still not clear on the "in" / "into" distinction--When describing the Ambitious Card, is the card placed "in" the deck, or "into" it?

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby TylerWilson » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:28 pm

Hey Curtis,
I certainly don't want to speak on Stephen's behalf, but near the end of the style guide you will notice the use of putting things "into the deck."

Stephen, why did you truncate this version of the style guide from its original, slightly longer form? And did sending Wesley James's Enchantments to the printers, complete with numbered steps in direct violation of your style guide, make you cringe?

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Re: The Hermetic Press “Stylebook”

Postby slayde » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:28 pm

And while we're gnawing on the old "gaff/gimmick" conundrum...

Is the distinction between "glimpse" and "peek" now lost?

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