Friday, May 18, 2007

The Death of a Semi-colon

I grew up reading Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson-Burnett, Gene Stratton-Porter, and many other authors with long names. Because of this, my writing style is a little old-fashioned. I enjoy complex sentence structures which make perfect sense with the proper use of a semi-colon.

But, alas and alack, today's modern style has veered away from the semi-colon. The em-dash is now all the rage. Editors and publishers are encouraging us to do away with as many semi-colons as possible. I feel like we should have a funeral for this, my most beloved of all punctuation marks.

I can do it -- I really can. (Did you see that? I ordinarily would have put a semi-colon right there, and instead, I did a dash.) My friend Erin Klingler has been reading my WIP this week and has helped me quite a bit, despite my grumbling and complaining. I shall conquer this!

Just like overcoming my overuse of "that" and "was," soon the avoidance of a semi-colon will become second nature. You may hear some sniffles and sobs along the way, but it's all for the greater good.

I asked my husband last night what his favorite punctuation mark is. He said the semi-colon. That, folks, is true love.


Heather B. Moore said...

Should we all wear black on Monday?

Karlene said...

I, too, love the semi-colon. Sometimes a dash works just fine, but sometimes it won't. I have no clue what the "rule" is, but I can feel which is the right one. And I refuse to stop using the semi-colon when it is appropriate.

I also refuse to use the word "lighted" instead of "lit", "pleaded" instead of "pled". I just won't do it! And you can't make me!

Framed said...

I like semi-colons, but the question mark is number one in my heart. Such a nice figure???

Tristi Pinkston said...


Yes, we should all wear black on Monday. And refuse to use shorter sentences. I say we mourn, and yet, we mourn with a small spark of rebellion burning in our hearts.


I completely agree. There are times when a semi-colon is the thing you need. Which is why I am keeping some of them intact. Some I changed, and some I didn't. It just cramps my style too much to take them all out. And you keep on with that whole "pled" thing! "Pleaded" makes you sound like you're wearing pleats. :)


You know, I never thought about it, but that question mark is pretty cute! Sort of flirty, isn't she???

Annette Lyon said...

I cannot and refuse to let the semi colon die. It may have a lingering, gasping, barely breathing life, but by my hands, it will live. That said, I write historical fiction, so it works. I'm old fashioned; what can I say? (There--I just used one. Can't help myself. Sometimes ya just gotta.)

Karen said...

It pains me that the semi-colon has become nothing more than a wink ;) in the emoticon.

"Pleaded" as in wearing pleats! I like that!

Luisa Perkins said...

The semi-colon is my favorite punctuation mark; I'm glad I'm not alone in still using it.

Becky said...

Ha! This is so funny. I tend to overuse the dash -- you know --- just for fun :)

I just finished reading "The Secret Garden" to my 3rd graders. Oh, how they loved it. Then we watched the most recent movie. The kids found many, many differences in the two and all agreed they liked the book better. Amazing!

We also enjoyed "Sarah, Plain and Tall" this year, and of course a few of the "Little House" books. Great children's lit if you ask me And all kinds. Oh, I love to read to those kids. I will miss that part.

I've enjoyed your blog, Tristi. Have a great week.

Becky said...

I have no clue why I felt it necessary to share what we were reading. I think it is because I saw the author of Secret Garden on your profile as one of your favorites. Oh, well. From a reader to a reader.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Hey Becky,

Feel free to share what you're reading any time!! You've named some of my very, very favorites of all time.

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