More Irregular Qwerty Irregulars – Punctuation Part II.
“We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and elusive, poetic and modulated; all… our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places.” … Lynne Truss
Forgive me as I play English teacher once more. It’s far from my favorite personae, but well, let’s just say, we are all creatures of many hats, and if the occasion fits….
Last week we discussed definitive sentence terminators and bold interior punctuation, both familiar and less so. And yet more dots and squiggles remain! So, onward and upward through the realm of quotation marks, apostrophes, dashes, and ellipses. Remember, these are nuts-and-bolts issues, and editors, agents, and publishers give short shrift to writers who don’t know their…
When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down.
One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.”
Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!”
I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I?
I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.”
Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray.
With love from Dr. Niamh,
Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamh.co.uk