The Controversial Semicolon

Semicolon2I subscribe to the daily literary news blog Lithub. For those who don’t have this particular addiction, Lithub gathers links to news from around the globe about writers and writing. There are links to articles about writing, literary prize announcements, interesting book reviews, and other assorted oddities. I scan it in the morning and sometimes there are 3 or 4 articles of interest to me; sometimes none. I can’t give it up, fearing that I’ll miss something really wonderful since it celebrates good, interesting writing and the lives of writers.

While we’re all isolated, during this time of Covid-19, we ought to have more time to read, so here’s a link to an article I enjoyed about good writing that I first found on Lithub. Ignore the fact that it’s about semicolons if that doesn’t seem appealing. A good writer can make anything appealing, and Adam O’Fallon Price succeeds here. The opening of the article will grab you immediately. It’s a quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.

Hah! You’re hooked, yes? The article is much more than you think it will be. It’s not a screed about the dastardly semicolon; it’s about good writing and how punctuation can take it to a higher level. The samples of writing from great authors illustrate that point. (Full disclosure: I love semicolons and use them often to change the flow of a sentence.)

Here’s the link to the article:

On Semicolons and the Rules of Writing by Adam O’Fallon Price from The Millions, July 10, 2018



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