It's funny. I'm not exactly a 14-year-old kid taking an English writing class for the first time. But yet, here I am, unsure at times how to punctuate or capitalize a word in my own writing.
I'll offer an example. Galatzi Trade is written in the same universe as Tresjolie. There is a loose political organization linking most of the populated planets, referred simply as "the empire".
Should I write it as:
- the empire
- the Empire
- The Empire
There was another conversation over the last word in this sentence:
Chaladine said, "They may take anyone who calls father Vendart."
Vendart is his title -- translate it as chieftain. I asked her, capitalized or not? Single quotes? Italics? Her answer was as I wrote it above.
I've been around the writing block more than once, both in my fiction writing and for the day job. In my fiction writing, discounting typing errors not discovered in the editing and beta-reading process, grammatical oddities are nearly always intentional as a result of my conversational writing style when writing fiction. I know the rules, but I do not always choose to follow them.
But clearly, I don't always know all the rules.
Would anyone have found it difficult to understand if I wrote the empire instead of The Empire? No. But there's a right way to do it. Knowing what is the right way isn't always obvious.