We all know it’s important to use good punctuation in writing our fiction. When we overuse commas, it distracts the reader. Conversely, when we leave out a comma, the reader may not understand what we are trying to say. Punctuation has an important place in the writing. But, is it the-be-all-end all?
Recently I read in the Red Pencil blog a post titled: Busted: Authors Caught Exciting Emotion with Creative Punctuation. In that post, the author made a case for using punctuation for exciting emotion. She gave three examples, including one from The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Indeed, the examples showed some creative use of punctuation, but they also demonstrated good writing. In my view, many of today’s authors try to use punctuation to display emotion rather challenging themselves to do so with skillful writing.
What I mean by that last statement is when we use (and overuse) exclamation points. An exclamation point does connote extreme emotion, but the savvy author knows how to convey that emotion without cheapening it with an exclamation point. Recently I read a novel (self-published) in which the author not only overused exclamation points but he also used bold and italic to create emotion.
As writers, we must not cheapen our craft by becoming too enamored with punctuation to share what we are trying to convey. Nonetheless the Red Pencil post helps us understand the value of good punctuation.
Here’s an example that was shared. In my view, this is not so much an example of punctuation creating the emotion as the writer doing so with good writing! What’s your opinion?
When she closes her eyes, Fiona recalls the pale smells of her mother’s skin and hair; a smell like new muslin washed in salt water and left to dry in the wind. She tries to remember her mother’s voice, and the pitch and treble of it passes through her, the rhythm of it so clear that for the shock of a moment they are returned to one another in the way they had been when she was small, connected by frail strings.
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