The importance of punctuation... I never thought I would say it!
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
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The importance of punctuation... I never thought I would say it!

Okay, it has taken me longer than I thought it would to get settled into my new home. I have decided that despite what I told you about keeping you up to date on repairs and improvements on the house I will not be doing any such thing. This is not because such a project would be boring, but because since we last spoke, the landlord has changed his mind. In fact he has become quite the dick. Had things worked out as we originally agreed, this house would have been perfect for my situation. However, things degraded quickly and I am now regretting my hasty decision to help a friend out. 

I am led to wonder just what things are coming too when a person that has been a friend for over 10 years suddenly turns on me like a rabid dog. Not only did he turn on me and deny all of our previous agreements, but he insisted after doing so that he hadn't turned on me at all... someone else must be texting on his phone. What? I might buy this line of shit except that this was a continual conversation, one in which he never left his house let alone had the time to lose his phone and recover it. 

So, now I am wondering if my friend has multiple personality syndrome or if he is just a liar that thinks I am a complete idiot. Either way, he is signing a renters agreement next time I see him. We aren't doing this on the honor system anymore. Not only that but he is either going to pay me for what I have already done, as we agreed or he is taking it off of the rent, also as we agreed. Something needs to get worked out or it is going to get really messy really quickly. 

Honestly I hope that we can work it out. It is still a good position for me, even if I am not the one fixing the place up. Who am I to care if he would rather pay someone else to fix the place up other than me, so long as he does it and doesn't just let it go? 

Anyway.... so much for that drama... getting settled also meant that I needed to get back to writing. I still haven't managed to sit and write anything in any of my novels, however I spent a great deal of time freelance writing in May, almost 200 articles to be exact. Writing freelance is a different kind of writing animal. It is intensive and you really learn how to write clearly, effectively and succinctly.  If you do not write like this, you do not get paid. 

Punctuation is a really big component of freelance writing. Proper punctuation, leads to or is necessary for proper sentence construction. One depends upon the other. There is no such thing as properly punctuating a poorly constructed sentence, and a properly constructed sentence can become a poor one without proper punctuation. 

I like Microsoft Office because it lets you know when you have constructed a sentence wrong. The entire sentence is underlined. Sometimes this is simply due to improper punctuation, and sometimes it is due to no punctuation, and sometimes the sentence is just wrong. When the Office program points out a wrong sentence to me, I first try to add punctuation in places that it seems to need it. If that doesn't work then, I simply rewrite the sentence. 

The same program tells you when a single punctuation is incorrect by underlining the actual punctuation or the adjoining word and the punctuation. Right clicking on these places gives you a suggestion that is usually correct. Generally speaking I take their word for it and make the correction as they suggest it, but sometimes, especially when they suggest a semi-colon, I will rewrite the sentence or simply add a period and start a new sentence. 

Learning what each character of punctuation means, is a big factor in knowing when to use them. Take the semi-colon for example. It is meant to cause the reader to come to a hard pause, before continuing with the sentence. This is a stronger pause than a comma and less than a period. A period brings them to a full stop. It is you, the author, that must decide if you want your reader to stop or just pause while reading. 

Of course a semi-colon has more meaning than a simple pause in the sentence. It separates thoughts and sometimes complete sentences that need not be joined. 

In freelance writing, I have found that it is better to simply bring the reader to a stop with a period, and make separate sentences out of one. Most clients do not want the writer to use a lot of semi-colons, because it makes the article look choppy and as if it was not well thought out, while periods make an article look clean and crisp and well researched. 

On the other hand, when writing stories, a semi-colon is well used, for example, when conveying the thought process of a character. People generally think in run-on sentences, they would write that way as well, if not for punctuation. So, when writing the thoughts of someone in a novel, the use of semi-colons can make the reading of those thoughts seem more realistic, and even though your writing program may want you to change those bits of punctuation, you might want to let them stand. 

You need only read Facebook or some blogs to see what I am talking about. Seldom do people on Facebook actually write complete sentences. They generally write partial sentences that are followed by other partial sentences, and there is no punctuation. To make matters worse is their lack of ability to spell and their ignorance of homonyms, or words that sound similar but are spelled differently. The later part of this problem is often caused by mispronunciation rather than an actual homonym. I believe that social networking and cell phone language is actually accelerating the prediction of the British over 150 years ago of the death of the English language in the United States. That however is very much beside the point.  

The point is... we can write like we think so long as it is punctuated correctly and there is an actual reason for the run on sentencing. Many novels today in the Young Adult genre are written entirely in broken and run on sentences. Many of them are very popular with the audience for which they are written. I believe this is so because, in these grammatical train wreck books, young people find a like minded or at least a like spoken person to which they can relate, if on nothing more than a grammatical level. I believe that as these children grow and experience life they will eventually view these books for what they really are, poorly written novels that would have made a more lasting impact had they had contained more substance and less rambling. 

I for one never thought that I would be lauding the merits of proper punctuation. I have never been the person that was any good at actually punctuating anything correctly. But, my recent bout with freelance writing has left me with a renewed sense of punctuation importance. 

I remember when I was in high school, one of my teachers asked me why I was speaking like I was uneducated. I told her that I was doing it because everyone else was, hence, I needed to fit in. I also told her that I had the ability to speak well but, because of these other factors, I did not. She expressed her disappointment with me, and at the time I did not really care, however, the conversation clearly stuck in my mine as something very important. So, here I am all these years later feeling just as disappointed as she must have felt, with the youth of America. I wonder if down the road they will also realize how asinine such a response really is? 

Please do not forget to check out my EBooks page for your opportunity to own one of my books for only $4.39, and if you are not sure if you will like my work then please read the first chapter for free and see if you like it. 

Live will and be good to each other.    

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