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Punctuation question?

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Offline Damien J. Nash Reading Flux by Mark. R. Faulkner
05 Feb 2013, 09:14 PM | Post: #11

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RE: Punctuation question?

(05 Feb 2013 08:58 PM)davidwailing Wrote:  
(05 Feb 2013 08:37 PM)Damien J. Nash Wrote:  Elaine is absolutely spot on. Jonathan, whilst you are technically correct, semi-colons should not be used in dialogue.

Or anywhere else. Ever!

I don't like them, but MS Word looooooooooooves them!
Offline alexroddie Reading The Terror by Dan Simmons
05 Feb 2013, 09:33 PM | Post: #12

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RE: Punctuation question?

(05 Feb 2013 08:58 PM)davidwailing Wrote:  
(05 Feb 2013 08:37 PM)Damien J. Nash Wrote:  Elaine is absolutely spot on. Jonathan, whilst you are technically correct, semi-colons should not be used in dialogue.

Or anywhere else. Ever!

I'm quite fond of them because they help to cultivate a 19th century feel to the prose (if used sparingly!)
Offline LindaGruchy Reading The Chandelier Ballroom by Elizabeth Lord
06 Feb 2013, 04:33 AM | Post: #13

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RE: Punctuation question?

I like semi-colons a lot.
Offline LindaGruchy Reading The Chandelier Ballroom by Elizabeth Lord
06 Feb 2013, 04:33 AM | Post: #14

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RE: Punctuation question?

I hate exclamation marks, though.
Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
06 Feb 2013, 10:16 AM | Post: #15

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RE: Punctuation question?

Punctuation is to the author what stage directions are to the playwright; its correct use tells the reader how the text should be read so as to appreciate the precise meaning that the author intended.
The semi-colon is a vital punctuation mark with three main uses; those uses, however, are not understood by many writers.
I can see no reason why semi-colons should not be used in written speech. The writer is still faced with the same problem of telling the reader how to apply the right emphasis to the words.
All IMHO, of course.
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Offline davidwailing Reading
06 Feb 2013, 01:55 PM | Post: #16

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RE: Punctuation question?

I don't agree that semi-colons are vital punctuation marks. Full stops and commas are vital, but using semi-colons is a matter of personal taste and writing style. For example, Alex's decision to use them to evoke a 19th century feel.

Personally, I never use them. Not in fiction, or emails, or anywhere else. I've written several novels without using a single semi-colon and nobody has ever noticed. Which I think indicates how disposable they are!

To me, semi-colons are either weak full stops, or flowery show-off commas. I don't think I've ever read a sentence that could not have been improved by replacing the semi-colon with a full stop (thus creating two shorter, snappier sentences) or a simple comma. I confess that I will sometimes use a dash to indicate a pause or to separate two clauses in the same sentence, so I understand there is often a genuine need for punctuation of some sort. But personally I find the semi-colon more disruptive to the flow of text than a dash, comma or full stop.

However, I'm well aware that I am in the minority and that most writers absolutely love using them. I can respect that without agreeing with it!
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Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
06 Feb 2013, 03:14 PM | Post: #17

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RE: Punctuation question?

David, I knew from your first contribution that you wouldn't agree with me, but someone had asked for punctuation advice and I thought I'd put forward an alternative point of view.
Your readers (and I'm one of them) do notice your punctuation; we read your writing as instructed by it. Short and snappy sentences mean we read in a short, snappy manner and are pulled into the high-paced feel that you are deliberately creating.
But there are times when short and snappy will not be in keeping with the atmosphere the writer seeks. The simple comma is fine, but the semi-colon can add subtlety.
Years ago I attended a punctuation course where the tutor very cleverly demonstrated that when speaking we all use a form of spoken punctuation. He first showed how we use pauses of varying lengths as well as varying the intonation of words, in order to convey precise meaning and better involve the listener. He then matched the pauses in recorded speech to the punctuation mark we should use to convey the same meaning when writing.
I've come to cherish a well-used semi-colon. It's one of the perils of growing into an old fart.
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Offline Mads Sorensen Reading A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter
06 Feb 2013, 04:01 PM | Post: #18

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RE: Punctuation question?

(06 Feb 2013 03:14 PM)B J Burton Wrote:  David, I knew from your first contribution that you wouldn't agree with me, but someone had asked for punctuation advice and I thought I'd put forward an alternative point of view.
Your readers (and I'm one of them) do notice your punctuation; we read your writing as instructed by it. Short and snappy sentences mean we read in a short, snappy manner and are pulled into the high-paced feel that you are deliberately creating.
But there are times when short and snappy will not be in keeping with the atmosphere the writer seeks. The simple comma is fine, but the semi-colon can add subtlety.
Years ago I attended a punctuation course where the tutor very cleverly demonstrated that when speaking we all use a form of spoken punctuation. He first showed how we use pauses of varying lengths as well as varying the intonation of words, in order to convey precise meaning and better involve the listener. He then matched the pauses in recorded speech to the punctuation mark we should use to convey the same meaning when writing.
I've come to cherish a well-used semi-colon. It's one of the perils of growing into an old fart.

I agree. Puctuation is there for a reason in all it's guises. Don't rule anything in or out. Just make sure the rhythm it creates fits with the type of piece or passage you are writing. But then, I'm an oldish fart, too.
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Offline lyndawrites Reading The Twopenny-Hat Detective by Brian Sellars
06 Feb 2013, 04:04 PM | Post: #19

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RE: Punctuation question?

Barry - totally agree with you. I often find my US editor has replaced a lot of my commas with semi-colons, though I do use them myself.

On the subject of punctuation in speech, have you ever seen Victor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation? Hilarious Big GrinBig Grin

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bpIbdZhrzA
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Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
06 Feb 2013, 04:23 PM | Post: #20

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RE: Punctuation question?

(06 Feb 2013 04:04 PM)lyndawrites Wrote:  Barry - totally agree with you. I often find my US editor has replaced a lot of my commas with semi-colons, though I do use them myself.

On the subject of punctuation in speech, have you ever seen Victor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation? Hilarious Big GrinBig Grin

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bpIbdZhrzA

Yes, love it. During the course I mentioned I found myself doing a Borge and inserting the sound effects.
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