As I continue working on the follow-up to “The Dark Proposal”, I’ve been paying close attention to my punctuation use. Usually I am concerned if I use my commas too often or too little. But I noticed something the other day that I’d like to share with you.
Semi-colons seem to be somewhat controversial with writers. And I mean all writers: fiction, technical, journalists and so on. While going for my Master’s in journalism, I was taught what the semi-colon actually was good for after years of not being entirely sure. That lesson has helped me when I write articles for outlets I freelance for.
But I get the impression fiction writers have no use for the semi-colon. Based on what I’ve read on author forums and blogs, using a semi-colon while telling a story is being lazy. It is lazy because it doesn’t allow the writer to stop the sentence they are writing and start a new one. It also doesn’t give the reader an understanding of what is being told. If a semi-colon is meant to connect two independent clauses that are necessary to tell a story, then why make them dependent on each other?
That seems to make sense. Take a look at this example:
She was freezing outside; she knew she should’ve worn a better coat.
And then look at this one:
She was freezing outside. She knew she should’ve worn a better coat.
Both examples are significant. The first one makes the two clauses conjoined in a way, while the second example isolates the two to make them stand out.
I think the use of a semi-colon should depend on the tone of the story. The first example may be good for a light-hearted story while the second is good for a more serious one. The latter would pull the reader in more while the former allows the reader to sit back and relax.
That’s my take anyway. How about you?