A post from Janet Reid: Punctuation is your friend!
Recently, a writer bemoaned “agents hate semicolons”on Twitter. …
The idea that anyone who wrangles words would hate any one member of the punctuation platoon is perplexing to me. …
Deft use of punctuation can give your work power and punch and panache.
To rob yourself of any piece of punctuation is idiotic.
If an agent says s/he hates semi-colons, my guess is s/he’s seen them abused too often, but that’s like blaming the victim for the crime.
I don’t hate ellipses even though some writers fling them about with abandon; as if they’d bought a barrel, suspended it over their computer and dripped them down on the manuscript like faux freckles.
Generally I frown on that … but not always.
I have, myself, personally, met English teachers who do not permit their students to use semicolons.
I’m with Janet Reid. To rob yourself of any piece of punctuation is idiotic. I’ll go further: to rob your students of any piece of punctuation is malpractice.
I’m guessing you’ve probably noticed I specifically do not hate semicolons. Or ellipses. I bet you didn’t know that after finishing a manuscript, I generally spend about three hours “finding” semicolons and ellipses, and taking out about a third of them. Obviously I leave a lot in, so that gives you an idea of how many I have to start with.
But if anybody tells me I’m overusing semicolons, I will just point them to Jane Austen and let them argue with her. NO ONE today uses as many semicolons as great writers used in that era.