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Style pointers, aka "greenhorn's guide to the generals' biographies project"

 
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All Forums >> [Current Games From Matrix.] >> [American Civil War] >> Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War 1861-1865 >> Generals' Biographies Project >> Style pointers, aka "greenhorn's guide to the generals' biographies project" Page: [1]
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Style pointers, aka "greenhorn's guide to the gene... - 3/9/2007 3:28:03 AM   
Gil R.


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I should have done this long ago... To speed up the process of editing, I think I'll create a "style guide," so that there will be some amount of uniformity in the bios (which, of course, looks more professional).

First, every bio should begin with: rank (always abbreviated), full name, years lived (always in parentheses, using "b." and "d." for year of birth and death), followed by a period. For example: "Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby, Jr. (b. 1828, d. 1862)." Some of you like to add a "USA" or "CSA" but I've been deleting these, since in the game the general will be clearly from one side or the other, and anything done to shorten bios is good. Also, once you've used a general's full name up front there's no need to do so in the bio.

Second, don't abbreviate the names of states. Remember that there is a small but substantial number of non-U.S. players, and not all of them will know U.S. postal abbreviations such as ME or AS, or some of the regular abbreviations. So, best to write "Lynchburg, Virginia" rather than "Lynchburg, VA."

I'll add more as I come across them.


< Message edited by Gil R. -- 10/15/2007 7:46:56 PM >
Post #: 1
RE: Style pointers - 3/9/2007 4:19:32 AM   
christof139


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quote:

Second, don't abbreviate the names of states. Remember that there is a small but substantial number of non-U.S. players, and not all of them will know U.S. postal abbreviations such as ME or AS, or some of the regular abbreviations. So, best to write "Lynchburg, Virginia" rather than "Lynchburg, VA."


AS = American Samoa
AR = Arkansas
AK = Alaska

I have to go check the flags I posted, because i think I used AK for Arkansas rather than AR.

Chris


_____________________________

'What is more amazing, is that amongst all those approaching enemies there is not one named Gisgo.' Hannibal Barcid (or Barca) to Gisgo, a Greek staff officer, Cannae.
That's the CSS North Carolina BB-55
Boris Badanov, looking for Natasha Goodenov

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 2
RE: Style pointers - 3/9/2007 6:10:19 AM   
Gil R.


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Huh. Isn't "AS" sometimes Arkansas? But you're right -- AR is the postal abbreviation.

(in reply to christof139)
Post #: 3
RE: Style pointers - 3/9/2007 6:13:30 AM   
Gil R.


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Two more things:
The rank provided for the general at the beginning should be the highest rank he attained during the Civil War. Sometimes, this will be ambiguous, if a guy received a brevet after the war ended, or some such thing. In such cases, use your judgment, and perhaps write a note for those of us on the forum to consider.

Also, whenever any officer or politician is referred to for the first time always give his position, even for someone well known such as Lincoln or Lee: Gen., Col., Pres., Gov., etc. After that, just use his last name. So, you'd write that "Stonewall Jackson served under Gen. Robert E. Lee... Lee was greatly saddened at his death."

(in reply to Gil R.)
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RE: Style pointers - 3/9/2007 6:19:20 AM   
christof139


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quote:

Huh. Isn't "AS" sometimes Arkansas? But you're right -- AR is the postal abbreviation.


Huh-uh-huh. Never saw AS for Arkansas. Knew someone that actually got stationed in American Samoa, or was it Guam, anyway, nice places, all three of them.

Chris


_____________________________

'What is more amazing, is that amongst all those approaching enemies there is not one named Gisgo.' Hannibal Barcid (or Barca) to Gisgo, a Greek staff officer, Cannae.
That's the CSS North Carolina BB-55
Boris Badanov, looking for Natasha Goodenov

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 5
RE: Style pointers - 3/13/2007 1:18:26 AM   
Gil R.


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Another pointer: refer to generals by their last names, not first.


Also, I've mentioned this elsewhere, but it makes sense to post it here: there's an outstanding Civil War reference that I strongly recommend consulting, both for biographical information on generals and related info such as battles, campaigns, etc. The work is Heidler & Heidler, "Encyclopedia of the American Civil War." It's just $50 at Amazon, even though it has something like 2500 pages and could easily be priced much higher without anyone having cause for complaint. Those of you involved in this project might want to consult it at times, but anyone interested in the Civil War should have a copy.

We've provided a link to the Amazon page over on our WCS website, over on the right side of the screen and down a bit: http://www.west-civ.com/ForgeOfFreedom/FOF_Index.htm

(in reply to christof139)
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RE: Style pointers - 3/13/2007 1:48:51 AM   
christof139


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Nice book!!! It's chaper used there, about $35, $38-$39 with shipping. I'll have to look for it on Ebay. Looks like a great book to have. Maybe later this year or next I can get a copy.

The Official Atlas of the ACW by the US War Dept. is also at Amazon for about $25 used or new, and I have seen it on Ebay for about $19. This is of course the Atlas made to accompany the OR as some here know and may already have this Atlas. I have it and it is great. Contains 821 Maps, 106 Engravings, and 209 Drawings. Many maps are too big to scan with a home scanner though.

Here is the link at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Official-Military-Atlas-Civil-War/dp/0760750440/ref=pd_sim_b_4/103-3676135-6179007

But use the Tinyurl.com address reduction link here:

http://tinyurl.com/ysl5u3

Chris



_____________________________

'What is more amazing, is that amongst all those approaching enemies there is not one named Gisgo.' Hannibal Barcid (or Barca) to Gisgo, a Greek staff officer, Cannae.
That's the CSS North Carolina BB-55
Boris Badanov, looking for Natasha Goodenov

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 7
RE: Style pointers - 3/13/2007 2:18:09 AM   
Gil R.


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The Heidlers' encyclopedia really is an outstanding work. It's very readable, so it's not some dry reference work. It came out within the last decade, so its info is quite current. But perhaps most importantly, it has an excellent variety of articles -- it's not just bios and battles, but things like the Sanitary Commission, important politicians, civilians like Horace Greeley, etc. etc.

(in reply to christof139)
Post #: 8
RE: Style pointers - 3/14/2007 3:53:08 AM   
Gil R.


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Another pointer, and one that sounds like I'm being an English teacher, but so be it: try not to fall back on the verb "to be" when a better verb would do. Good writing involves strong verbs, not weak ones like "is."

For example, I was just editing a bio with this sentence: "His body is in the rector of St. Michael's church, Charleston." Now, there's nothing at all wrong with that sentence, but it reads better to use something other than "is," such as: "His body lies in the rector of St. Michael's church, Charleston." See how "lies" beats "is"? Pretty much everyone does this, but it makes for better bios to use more descriptive verbs, so I've been making changes when I thought it would help. Please keep this in mind as you write, though, since it will make your first drafts that much better.


< Message edited by Gil R. -- 3/14/2007 3:54:13 AM >

(in reply to Gil R.)
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RE: Style pointers - 3/16/2007 6:55:47 PM   
Mike13z50


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Gil,

Should we use Confederate battle names when writing about CSA, and Union names for USA? I was working on one of the Cobb's and one of the sources was talking about his service at Antietam. I thought it should be Sharpsburg, since that is what Cobb would have called it.

(in reply to Gil R.)
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RE: Style pointers - 3/17/2007 3:42:04 AM   
christof139


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quote:

The Heidlers' encyclopedia really is an outstanding work. It's very readable, so it's not some dry reference work. It came out within the last decade, so its info is quite current. But perhaps most importantly, it has an excellent variety of articles -- it's not just bios and battles, but things like the Sanitary Commission, important politicians, civilians like Horace Greeley, etc. etc.


Yeah, it sounds good. Thanx for telling me about it!!! It's good to have a reference book that covers broad areas of the war, and I like the Generals' Bios being iin it as you stated.

I have a couple of other books and CDs I was going to get, but now I have to think about just what to get first. Would be nice if money grew on special Money Trees.

I have Dupuy and Dupuy's Encyclodedia of Military History, and that is also good for covering things broadly and in chronological and regional order from about 3000BC or so to maybe the early 1990s, and I think that is the most current edition.

I have a huge book published by Greenhill that chronologically lists and gives briefs on the Nappy Wars, and also have the Nappy War Atlas published by the same modern publishers that republished the OR Atlas of the ACW, got'em both.

Chris


_____________________________

'What is more amazing, is that amongst all those approaching enemies there is not one named Gisgo.' Hannibal Barcid (or Barca) to Gisgo, a Greek staff officer, Cannae.
That's the CSS North Carolina BB-55
Boris Badanov, looking for Natasha Goodenov

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 11
RE: Style pointers - 3/17/2007 5:07:17 AM   
Gil R.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike13z50

Gil,

Should we use Confederate battle names when writing about CSA, and Union names for USA? I was working on one of the Cobb's and one of the sources was talking about his service at Antietam. I thought it should be Sharpsburg, since that is what Cobb would have called it.



I've generally been going with the Union name for Antietam, because I believe that's the more widely known game. Some bio-writers have been giving one name in the main text and another in parentheses, which is okay. It's a tough call in certain cases. But I don't think we need a rigid division so that CSA bios have one, and USA the other.

By the way, I'm out of town and can't connect with my laptop for a few days, so I won't get to work on any bios until Monday. So, I'm not ignoring the new postings, so much as delaying dealing with them.

(in reply to Mike13z50)
Post #: 12
RE: Style pointers - 3/17/2007 2:07:47 PM   
christof139


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Gil, There is an error in Cabell's Bio: It states the Battle of Pea Ridge and town of Jacksonport are in Alabama when they are in Arkansas.

Chris


< Message edited by christof139 -- 3/20/2007 4:04:00 AM >


_____________________________

'What is more amazing, is that amongst all those approaching enemies there is not one named Gisgo.' Hannibal Barcid (or Barca) to Gisgo, a Greek staff officer, Cannae.
That's the CSS North Carolina BB-55
Boris Badanov, looking for Natasha Goodenov

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 13
RE: Style pointers - 3/23/2007 11:20:40 PM   
shenandoah

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike13z50

Gil,

Should we use Confederate battle names when writing about CSA, and Union names for USA? I was working on one of the Cobb's and one of the sources was talking about his service at Antietam. I thought it should be Sharpsburg, since that is what Cobb would have called it.



I've generally been going with the Union name for Antietam, because I believe that's the more widely known game. Some bio-writers have been giving one name in the main text and another in parentheses, which is okay. It's a tough call in certain cases. But I don't think we need a rigid division so that CSA bios have one, and USA the other
quote:



I prefer Antietam over Sharpsburg. I also prefer Manassas over Bull Run. Certain names just sound better... another example, Shiloh. It's not as much as whether it needs to be the nearest town of nearest stream but rather go with the phonetics of the word. I live here in the Shanandoah Valley and can see Massanutten Mountain out one window and the Allegheny mtns out the back. Opequon Creek is just down the road and that's about all that is left of the real native heritage here in the Valley. I like to use any native language when possible. It usually always sounds better.

Shenandoah

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 14
RE: Style pointers - 3/23/2007 11:27:03 PM   
shenandoah

 

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My first attempt at using quotes looks like it didn't come out right.  So I will just cut and paste what I said.

I prefer Antietam over Sharpsburg. I also prefer Manassas over Bull Run. Certain names just sound better... another example, Shiloh. It's not as much as whether it needs to be the nearest town of nearest stream but rather go with the phonetics of the word. I live here in the Shanandoah Valley and can see Massanutten Mountain out one window and the Allegheny mtns out the back. Opequon Creek is just down the road and that's about all that is left of the real native heritage here in the Valley. I like to use any native language when possible. It usually always sounds better.

Shenandoah

(in reply to shenandoah)
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RE: Style pointers - 3/25/2007 10:00:49 PM   
Gil R.


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Makes sense. But it's somewhat subjective, of course. To me, "Bull Run" is a much cooler name than "Manassas." (But since I believe that both names are equally well known, I usually don't change that. My belief is that fewer people know "Sharpsburg" than "Antietam," which is why I usually change it.


< Message edited by Gil R. -- 3/25/2007 10:01:42 PM >

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RE: Style pointers - 4/26/2007 1:39:43 PM   
jkBluesman


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Gil, when do you want to have dates of battles in the bios and when do we not have to mention them?

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RE: Style pointers - 4/26/2007 6:45:53 PM   
Gil R.


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There's no real rule for it. In general, I prefer to have dates, but if you have too many that makes reading the bio tedious. I like to vary it up, perhaps giving a date for a battle in April, but then saying "at the Battle of XXX that June," and then saying "during that fall's XXXX Campaign," and so forth. We can't assume that everyone knows when Shiloh and Gettysburg were, but I think it's more important to give dates for less famous battles. The main thing, though, is to make sure that a reader has a general idea of the amount of time between important events so that he can follow the narrative, which is why when editing I'll sometimes stick in actual dates or else those more general "later that summer" and "the following March" types of phrases.

(in reply to jkBluesman)
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RE: Style pointers - 10/15/2007 11:40:33 AM   
jkBluesman


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Maybe this should be edited and renamed "greenhorn's guide to the generals' biographies project" so that new volunteers get the help they need to write a good bio matching the standard.

< Message edited by jkBluesman -- 10/15/2007 11:44:29 AM >


_____________________________

"War is the field of chance."
Carl von Clausewitz

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 19
RE: Style pointers - 10/16/2007 11:47:08 AM   
jkBluesman


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quote:

Gil R.: I have a request that would help tremendously with expediting the project. Right now, when I edit bios about 80% of the time it takes involves adding basic explanatory material, much of which I have to take the time to look up. A typical bio of, say, 3500 words will have a few minor typos and a few sentences that can be rewritten to make them flow better, and could be completely edited in about 10-15 minutes, if not for one recurring problem: I usually have to spend another hour or so on the stuff that needs to be added for the benefit of most readers, who don't know every last fact about the Civil War. Some examples of what I mean:

* Every time mention is made of the Peninsula Campaign, I need to add that it began in March 1862, that it was an attempt to take Richmond by landing amphibiously on the Virginia Peninsula, and/or some other basic piece of information -- all of which takes time. Same goes for First Bull Run, which I usually need to identify as the first major battle of the war, a decisive Confederate victory, etc. Same goes for Vicksburg, the strategic importance of which is often omitted. And so on.
* When less famous battles, campaigns and expeditions are mentioned, I need to spend time reading up on them to refresh my memory, so that I don't write something incorrect. The other day, for example, I had to read up on the Camden Expedition so that I could describe it. If a general's most important moment in the war came at some obscure battle, it's important to say something about that battle -- and 95% of the time this requires me to spend time getting up to speed on it.
* Too often, the significance of significant battles -- or else some other important piece of information about that battle (such as who won) that is relevant to the narrative -- is omitted. This is also true for such key parts of famous battles as Pickett's Charge, Horseshoe Ridge, the Hornet's Nest, etc. If a bio says that a general attacked the Hornet's Nest, I usually end up having to explain what that was.
* While I do not believe that dates should be provided for every single battle, the reader needs to have a sense of the chronology involved, so I often end up having to insert dates, many of which I need to look up. (My preference, instead of just spitting out dates, is to give the reader a sense of time like this: "Though he performed heroically at Second Bull Run on August 29, 1862, just nineteen days later Gen. X made a tactical blunder at Antietam that led him and half of his men to be shot and wounded. He didn't return to action until the Battle of Fredericksburg that December." The date of Fredericksburg isn't that important, so long as the reader knows that the general was recuperating from mid-September until December.)


Just copied this so that newbies find it and get more clues about what should be in a bio.

< Message edited by jkBluesman -- 10/16/2007 11:50:14 AM >


_____________________________

"War is the field of chance."
Carl von Clausewitz

(in reply to jkBluesman)
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