Some authors write according to an outline, and others have a less-organized series of events they want to describe. There are authors who write their scenes sequentially, no matter how great or small, and those who write major scenes first and minor scenes last. I’ve even known one writer who wrote all her sex scenes first—she said they were the most fun—and then built the rest of the story around them.
But what most writers have in common is that they keep some kind of notes about their story, characters, plot, timeline, and whatnot. These notes, no matter how informal, are what editors use as a foundation for your story’s style sheet.
So… what’s a style sheet? It’s your editor’s notes about your novel—the place where every character’s name, physical description, relation to other characters is noted. But that’s not all. Not by a long shot. There are basically two types of information kept on a style sheet: content and format. Details that refer to your story line, your characters, your setting, your era, etc., are considered content information. Information regarding spelling, punctuation, and grammar is considered format. But the differentiation doesn’t really matter, as long as most of it is recorded somewhere.
• Character names—for every character named in the novel. Yes, even Sam the driver who was in one scene. We have no idea if he’ll show up again in book three, so he goes on the list.
• Physical description, including any descriptions—eye color, hair color, general build, and anything that’s noted as standing out. No author wants her lead’s eye color changing mid-story.