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  1. #11
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Using semi-colon in fiction.

    I don't think I've heard either writers or editors argue that much over the use/not use of the semicolon. I use them and don't agonize over it.

  2. #12
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    fewer is best!

    IMNSHO, but this is how I've been doing it for almost 30 years:

    Semicolons should be used sparingly, especially in dialogue. They indicate an attached clause rather than a thought that could stand (however shakily) on its own.

    Unless you're intentionally writing dense prose (which runs the inherent risk of derailing a reader, & more importantly an editor or agent), then it'd be best if you stick with storytelling that's as linear as possible, & semicolons detract from linearity.

    Notice than I'm a huge fiend for putting asides into parentheses. This is annoying-but-allowable in nonfic, but has to be strictly pared down in my fiction outings, because what informs in the former mostly distracts in the latter.

    (Strangely, dashes & ellipses are linear, & a proper colon is a sort of "ergo" so only slightly less linear.)

    Semicolons clash with dialogue, because most people (most of the time) speak in a single-track manner

    I'd suspect that, if semicolons pop up every three-four sentences, the writer is also enamoured of huge long compound sentences that'll have to be chopped or rewriten to avoid inducing a book-throwing reflex among readers.

  3. #13
    Gary Kessler

    Re: fewer is best!

    They indicate an attached clause

    No. The function of a semicolon being discussed here links two closely related (in context) sentences (each containing a subject and verb). Semicolons aren't properly used to attach clauses.

  4. #14
    the cat came back

    Re: fewer is best!

    I thought that the whole point of a semicolon was to link two sentences (independent clauses) whose meaning was so closely related that they should be presented together in the same sentence in order to better show there relationship.

  5. #15
    Gary Kessler

    Re: fewer is best!

    That's one of the main uses, yes (definitely not in adding on a clause -- See Chicago Manual of Style, 6.57). The most-used instance is as the higher level of series separation (linking clauses already containing commas -- CMA 6.21, 6.60).

  6. #16
    Cammy Stevens

    Re: fewer is best!

    I'm pretty well semicolon and parenthasis free in my writing. I've worked on grammar and linking ideas, etc., but I've done it other ways that I know I enjoyed seeing when I read someone else's work. After I do all my grammar revisions I'm going to go back over it all again and make sure the text has the right rhythm and beat to it, figuratively speaking. You would probably call it the flow? I've sang and played instruments so I kind of think of it like music. It's gotta have that 'it' factor and sound right for me as a complete composition.

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