Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Joy of Punctuation

If words provide the meaning for writing, punctuation provides the cadence and nuance. Like words, if the meaning is not common, there is no understanding.

In a recent submission, the writer punctuated the entire ten pages using ellipsis ( ... ). She used ellipsis in place of commas, dashes, colons, semicolons, periods, etc. Every time I encountered one of her ellipsis, I was forced to stop reading to try to figure out what she meant by it. It was the equivalent of writing in English and occasionally throwing in a gratuitous word in Sanskrit. It breaks the flow of the story and pulls the reader out of the reality the writer is trying to create.

There is a purpose for standardized punctuation. It isn't just a foible of anal retentive people. Writer's need to learn the basic elements of grammar and punctuation if they want their work to flow. I don't do it correctly every time, but I am trying to learn the rules. In addition to style guides, Lynne Truss's funny and informative book Eats Shoots and Leaves is an excellent source for learning how to properly punctuate.

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