NaNoBlogwhatever 9 of 30:
If you write fiction, your publisher probably uses The Chicago Manual of Style for consistency purposes, probably in conjunction with some house-made rules designed to ensure that, well, when given the opportunity, people don’t just make up rules on the spot. (Your non-fiction publisher might also use CMOS, but there are other books in use–and for both nonfiction and fiction, other supplemental books in use, too.) It’s a pricey book, and though there are differences in editions, you’d probably be okay picking up an edition one or two iterations back if you saw it for cheap. That said, big chunks of CMOS aren’t useful unless you need to cite sources, and there isn’t any real guidance for punctuating dialogue, which is one of the hardest things for many writers, in part because there are so many ways to do it right. . .and so many more ways to do it wrong.
What I meant to link you to, however, is the editors’ monthly mailbag, which you can sign up to be notified about via the link “Sign Up for Q & A Alerts” on this page. I love the little discussions–and how often the advice comes down to “Don’t try to fix it–just rewrite it!”