Punctuation is often considered to be something we learned at school. Many of us were taught that a Full Stop or period ends a thought, paragraph or an idea and a comma can be used to pause for breath. That was probably taught when we were just 6 or 7 years old by a teacher who didn’t want to complicate the lives of small people living in a complicated world.
Since then, we’ve all made do with that rule of thumb and hardly questioned our first teachers. Those were the teachers who had an enormous impact on our beginnings and learning – they also told us that Santa Claus exists and that thunder is just the gods throwing the furniture around.
I recently came across an excellent book by Noah Lukeman
called “A Dash of Style” – The Art and Mastery of Punctuation. As I began to read the first chapter which covered basic ideas about the Full-Stop in Punctuation, I realised how embarrassing it was to admit to myself that I still believe that a comma is used for a pause or short breath in speech patterns. There’s a lot more to it than that, I know. The short breath theory isn’t faulty but needs to be revised by all of us.
“A Dash of Style” or “The Art of Punctuation” is a Book written by an editor who has read over 50,000 manuscripts by novelists and authors during his career. He knows what is good and what is trash.
“The Plot Thickens” is another excellent book written by Noah Lukeman which covers all the aspects of developing a plot in a realistic way. The elusive putting your finger on what Plot is, is dealt with and presents the reader who is writing or wishes to write a good yarn with a good Plot with a task that will remind them that writing is hard work. Character studies based on getting to know who your characters are from every possible angle. Thinking like a Doctor who questions a patient about physical problems allows us to delve into the aches and pains of our character in a way that reveals many interesting points that will influence a protagonists attitude to a scene when writing. When we take the position of policeman or detective and start to ask questions about our Protagonist’s motives and lifestyle we are presented with interesting facts that could only be revealed through tough, no-nonesense questioning. This continues through the various personas of Psychologist, salesperson or the local shopkeeper asking questions about the various aspects of a character’s life and leads to a detailed and fully rounded biography of a character. This way we get to know what makes our hero a Hero and why the bad guys are the way they are, nasty and devious little bastards who only think of themselves and therefore create constant conflict within our story.
Both Books are excellent and a must for every writer who needs to refer and reflect through the pages of a book On Writing