Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Punctuation and Pacing

I took a great class at my last conference. It was on Pacing and taught by Josi Kilpack. She said a lot of great things but my favorite was about how punctuation can affect the pacing of our stories.

I hadn’t really thought about it in the cool way she put it:

Think of punctuation as road signs signaling your readers what you want them to do:

  • Period (.) – Full stop.
  • Comma (,) – Pause, or slow break.
  • Ellipsis (…) – Pause, or rubbernecking at an accident.
  • Semicolon (;) – Longer pause, or a rolling stop.
  • Exclamation (!) – STOP. Yelled stop (That could get annoying fast, use in moderation)
  • Question Mark (?) – Pause + prod to do something, or sharp turn.
  • Em Dash (—) – Pause + look aside, like slowing to read a billboard.

I am a sucker for a metaphor. Thanks Josi. I won’t think of punctuation the same again.


1 comment:

Densley Family said...

My pet peeve is when people send me texts with a billion exclamation points! You know what I mean?! I just want to tell them, "Hey! In my mind, you're yelling all of these words at me!" I get a headache! Great Post!

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