Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Punctuation I Hate -- the ugly semicolon.

I review many writer's manuscripts and the one thing I hate to see most: semicolons. Personally, I think they're ugly. I see a comma or a period, my eyes flow over them nicely, but I see the ';' and I want to vomit. Maybe it's just me. Yeah, probably just me. My eye doesn't flow nicely over it. It's like a repeated slap in the face.

I am going home;(slap) I intend to stay there.
It rained heavily during the afternoon;(slap) we managed to have our picnic anyway.
So what can be done? Because frankly, my cheek is starting to hurt. I like what this man has to say: "Any separation of independent clauses in fiction I feel is better crafted with two well written sentences rather than a singular crammed one." (Source here
So for my face's sake, let's just make better sentences, shall we?


Louise is said...

Hi Ann!

You have an awesome blog! I love it and I'll be visiting again. I haven't looked at everything.

I'm from tNBW and I was going to read one of your novels. I wasn't sure which one - you have a few!

but I have to say, I read about your dislike of semi-colons.... ok, I admit you scare me. I use the semi-colon!

Anyway, your blog is full of great information. It's a good resource. And I've even got a couple of the writing books.

Thank you!
LouLou ~ tNBW

Anonymous said...

Ha! I'm a semi-colon-user who used to hate the semi-colon!

I agree it looks off in fiction. I don't know why I'm having an affair with it recently. It's like the really smart punctuation mark in a room full of drab commas and periods. I use it fully aware it will eventually be edited out by a comma-user.

(Corra from TNBW. I saw your post at Wiggy's blog.)

Blogging is fun!! (And something I used to think as stuffy as the semi-colon!)



Unknown said...

I love the semicolon. I use it often. Two slightly connected thoughts are better written with a semicolon than with two separate sentences.

However, you do spout common workshop wisdom when you tell us that semicolons are bad.

Why are they bad? I hate tea that's not sweetened, but does that make it bad?

Louise is said...

Hey you guys!! Thanks Corra and Wayland.
I never thought there was a problem with semi-colons till I came to this site. But I have to say not everyone thinks they are 'bad' which is a relief.

I'm going to admit something... I type my story, and the WordProgram changes it to semi-colon. So often it just happens that way.

Wow! I'm reading alot of blogs. I can't keep up. Sorry for any late replies.

Bisi Adjapon said...

Hi Ann,

I happen to disagree that semi-colons are bad. In fact, I use them quite a bit. Often, two ideas go together and a semicolon makes the logical leap bettter. You know, I get troubled by all the do's and don'ts out there in forums: don't use passive, etc. Creativity is creativity; let it flow.

Altman said...

Hate is such a strong word, and actually, so is bad. I actually use semicolons. I just think they are ugly, like I think clothes from the 80s are ugly. However, my daughter now wears my hand-me-downs and thinks I'm cool...so, what do I know. Glad for the debate, though, bring it on!

ann :)