Tag Archives: punctuation

Inventive Punctuation and the Popular Novelist

exclamation mark in fireLet me start with an admission: I love inventive punctuation. Of course, you can do an awful lot, just by changing a comma into a dash. But some people go the whole hog into brackets, asterisks and the wild excesses of the exclamation mark. It all fascinates me.

Most people, of course, ignore it. Well, readers pick up the writers’ signals, I hope. But they don’t actually play around with the stuff. Why should they?

For some people, though, punctuation is a real headache, indissolubly tied to (horrors!) grammar. It’s a terrible shame.

That was the reason that, several years ago, Elizabeth Hawksley and I wrote a simple guide. Its working title was Punctuation for the Petrified, which the publisher vetoed for excellent reasons. It reflected our feelings, though. We wanted people to learn a few principles, have a source book to check things that worried them and, above all, relax and have fun. Continue reading

Punctuation and a New Challenge

owls, Little owlThe week before last I spent a blissful holiday in Dorset as a birdwatcher’s companion. We went on long walks in sea air and generally marvelled at the countryside. It was in full fig and glorious.

The Birdwatcher saw a couple of birds he didn’t expect, as well as one genuine rarity. And I spent a couple of hours communing with a Little Owl. It sat so still I worried that it was a stuffed toy. The Amiable Birdwatcher agreed that it might be a decoy to attract owls to that quarry as a des res, so took us back to check. And then, Sleepy Sam came out of his stupor to pursue a fly up one level on the rock face. So  after that, I stayed and watched him doze.

Punctuation – the Reckless Volunteer

writing energy magic, book, bluebell woodThe peace and quiet was very necessary. This last week I have been wrestling with new and exciting challenges. For I am to deliver an online course on punctuation next month and I have never done such a thing before. The online course, I mean.

Punctuation I had covered – or thought I did, anyway. Continue reading

Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

One of the casualties of the pandemic has been language. Clarity matters. What, I ask you, is social distancing?

couple distanced from each other

Social distancing? Or is it really physical distancing?

Regency ladyRegency servantIn my (pedant’s) book, social distancing relates to the strata of society.

So… Regency aristocrat Lady Evadne Piddling-Coot is socially distanced from her washerwoman Hattie Gutbucket. If they were to meet — unlikely, one would think — Hattie would drop a curtsey and say nothing. Or, if they met in a confined space such as a staircase, Hattie would turn to face the wall and Lady E would continue on her regal progress as if Hattie were not there at all.

Some fellow pedants have pointed out (in vain, sadly) that social distancing actually means physical distancing. What else could it mean, when we are talking about 2 metres, or 1 metre, or 1 metre plus? Continue reading

Collaborator and Writer, First Steps in Doing it Together

Collaborator…

Collaborator with colleagueBy temperament, I’m one of nature’s collaborators. Show me a team and I’m spitting on my hands and doing my bit. With enthusiasm.

In my various day jobs, I’ve loved the sense of shared enterprise. OK, I could get a bit testy when we had meetings about meetings. But mostly interaction with other people buoyed me up when I was tired, focused me when I was floundering and made laugh a lot.

And I work a whole lot better than I do on my own.

…or Loner?

Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

Do you use exclamation marks? Often? Maybe too often??!!!

pen in razor shape, text critic, for exclamation marksSome readers HATE exclamation marks

Exclamation marks used to be all the rage. Once.

But tastes change and, nowadays, some readers count exclamation marks and scream abuse on all the social media platforms if they think an author has used too many. Quite a few of my clients — including bestselling authors — have suffered at the hands of the exclamation mark police. And many have sworn, as a result, never to use an exclamation mark again.

Ever. Continue reading

Apostrophe Rules!

This is the tale of how an apostrophe changed my life. It made me open my mind, in spite of deeply entrenched prejudices, and endowed me with hours of reading pleasure I would never have expected in a million years.check that apostrophe

 

Don’t like thrillers

Some years ago a colleague whose taste in books hardly ever chimed with mine, recommended a thriller he’d just discovered. “Fantastic plot”, he said. “Great writer. None of that stodgy grammar and fancy image nonsense. Just a plain man speaking plain thoughts.”

Two little kids reading book under blanketI groaned in spirit. “Lots of action?” He nodded enthusiastically. That meant dead bodies. Continue reading

Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter

  1. Beware the Apostrofly! says Pedantique-Ryter
  2. Pedantique-Ryter: English Daftisms
  3. Pedantique-Ryter: who or whom?
  4. Pedantique-Ryter: may or might?
  5. Pedantique-Ryter: Exclamation Marks Shriek
  6. Pedantique-Ryter: Less is More. Or Is It Fewer?
  7. Halloween imports we could do without? A Damely rant
  8. Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?
  9. Right word : wrong place? Pedantique-Ryter rants
  10. Pedantique-Ryter : changing meanings, right and wrong
  11. Pedantique-Ryter: Could Have or Could Of?
  12. Pedantique-Ryter rants about incomprehensible words
  13. Incoherent English : a Pedantique-Ryter Rant
  14. Criteria for Plural Phenomenon : Pedantique-Ryter rants
  15. Clarity : Language Use and Misuse : Pedantique-Ryter rants

grocers apostrophe

Occasional Writing Tips from Dame Isadora Pedantique-Ryter : #1 The Apostrofly

The apostrofly is a nasty but industrious little insect. She can lay her eggs almost anywhere — she’s not picky about nest sites, though she is rumoured to be fond of the greengrocer’s veg display — and her eggs hatch out into little black maggots that try to crawl all over a writer’s perfect pages.

apostroflee beats apostrofly

 

There is, sadly, no easy solution. Wouldn’t it be great if we could use a can of insecticide and kill them all off?

One quick spritz of Miracle Apostroflee and all the incorrect apostrophes disappear from the page while any missing ones are inserted in exactly the right places.

 

 

Not a chance. Continue reading