Sunday, 2 December 2012

Three Common Punctuation Problems

I am a writer. I like to write. I do not like to ponder over punctuation, but as a writer I must.

Here are some of the problem punctuations that usually get my head swimming.

Writers often get the colon and semicolon confused, but they are very different. And then throw in the em dash, and it all gets mind boggling.

co·lon 1  (k
n. pl. co·lons
a. A punctuation mark ( : ) used after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series and often after the salutation of a business letter. http://www.thefreedictionary.com

sem·i·co·lon  (s
A mark of punctuation ( ; ) used to connect independent clauses and indicating a closer relationship between the clauses than a period does.

Example of colon and semicolon use from my book, Sir Princess Petra.

“The choices are: to capture a crocodile and make his skin into a royal leather chair; to hush that howling, nasty dragon, Snarls, in the Forest of Doom; or to eat a roomful of raw onions.”

em·dash or em dash  (
A symbol ( ) used in writing and printing to indicate a break in thought or sentence structure, to introduce a phrase added for emphasis, definition, or explanation, or to separate two clauses.

(The em dash is made by hitting your dash key three times, then backspacing to make it a solid line. When writing in 'Blogger', I have to use a 'striketrough'.

Example of the em-dash from my book, Sir Princess Petra’s Talent.

Petra wiped away a tear--a tear of happiness and pride.

Or in this sentence where the king is reading from the royal rule book and looks up from his reading to emphasize something.

“Then, the hereby said princes--meaning you--will return to the kingdom with a proper princess certificate.”

For some reason, these three punctuation rules seem confusing. And I know they are not set in stone as I have seen sentences in other books, and they were dealt with differently.

When I'm not sure about these rules, this is when I question my editor for their proper use. The editor has greater insights into the punctuation dilema than I do.

And sometimes after I've pounded my head against the wall over some rule or other, my editor's answer is--it's just a matter of style.

Go figure.

copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2012