Thursday, December 12, 2013

 

The Gift of Punctuation

Are there any punctuation marks hiding in these
gifts? Photo credit | PGHumphrey
I was taking a break from working on a client’s manuscript when I started to think about what the majority of my changes had been for this particular author.

Punctuation.

It made me start to think about writers and their love affairs with words. But, do they have the same with their punctuation? To some, punctuation might seem superfluous. After all, can’t you understand some writers even with the writing seemingly void of punctuation? Short sentences abruptly ended with a sentence. Sentences seeming staccato with their repetitive rat-a-tat-tat. Not a comma in sight. Then, there are some, not all, writers who can place punctuation everywhere you turn!

Actually, all writers need punctuation, but we often forget about them at gift-giving time. (We also seem to stop studying them after a while.) With all the gift guides plastered across the Internet, have you considered what punctuation to get your favorite writer this holiday season?

1. A period. It’s plus is that is the final word. Writers like using one to finish one thought to move along to the next one. For many folks, this is our security blanket of punctuation. Every writer knows when to use one, right? Compare receiving the period to opening a fifth pair of socks on Christmas morning.

2. A comma. This punctuation mark always seemed collaborative to me. Not sure why, but it might be because it always, constantly, or often appears in a set. Whether you want to buy a writer a set, the comma is a versatile mark that is greatly appreciated by the writer. They can be gifted in single or serial packs.

3. An exclamation mark! Often mistaken as the mark of the hysterical heroine, exclamation marks add a bit of excitement to otherwise dull writing! It perks up writing, like a jolt of java perks up a flagging writer hitting the home stretch while writing a scene! I tend to think of giving the exclamation mark to the friend you enjoys a fictional party or fire! Rarely do they get invited to join in nonfiction works.

4. A semicolon. This mark is probably one of the lonelier marks, I think. It shows up sparingly and often the writer is not sure why to use it since the comma is so more user-friendly. The semicolon tries to work with others, so you might want to gift one to an accommodating writer friend.

5. The ellipses… Admittedly, these are my favorite punctuation marks to have around. I tend to abuse them in emails…they are awesome for leaving a thought hanging… They leave a lot to the imagination, which is great for some of my emails and my fictional dialogues… For some writers, I wish they would employ more ellipses, so I have a lot of those on my gift list.

If you could, what punctuation marks might you gift to a writer friend and why? What punctuation do you hope you receive and why?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor who lives in North Carolina. She hopes you and yours are having a great holiday season, in spite of punctuation.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Margo Dill said...

Cute post, Elizabeth-how about the apostrophe--this little bugger gives many writers trouble? :)

1:11 PM  
Blogger leslie said...

I also have a love affair with the ellipsis. In one of my first editing jobs, the author actually took me to task because I inserted some where I felt like they fit. She informed me they were not grammatically correct in the way I had used them.

Talk about embarrassing, when the author has to correct the editor!

10:24 AM  

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