My favourite piece of punctuation is the semicolon. When it comes to proofreading, I notice that a lot of the time I am adding in semicolons to pieces of writing which otherwise would not use a single one. It makes me wonder if people actually know when to use the semicolon.
I think that it’s potentially my favourite piece of punctuation for the mere fact that I actually know how to use it, just like apostrophes are my least favourite, because they confuse the hell out of me! If you are great at using apostrophes, then I seriously applaud you.
For those of you who are confused about when the semicolon should make an appearance in your writing, I use it when it seems like it’s too short of a pause to use a full stop, but too long of a pause to use a comma. Another time to use it is when you’re writing a list of detailed items.
Milk, bread, cookies – this small list would use just commas.
creamy, white milk; seeded, cheesy, crusty bread; chocolate chip, salted caramel cookies – this list with detailed items uses semicolons because otherwise the large use of commas would make it confusing to look at and separate the items.
Which piece of punctuation is your favourite?
Personally when it comes to writing, I am a planner.
When I first started writing I didn’t plan at all. I would have an idea, work out a beginning and ending, who the main character was and then just go for it. Although this works for some people, it really didn’t work for me. I realised that my story was going nowhere. I was just writing and writing and writing, but there was no structure, no conflict… it was just very lacking in what a story needs. I had no idea where it was going to go next and pretty soon into it, I realised I had no clue how I was going to reach the ending. It wasn’t even the same story anymore.
I haven’t made this mistake since and it is due to my planning. I don’t go overboard with my planning, but I still need some form of it there to keep my story structured and going in the right direction. Now once an idea comes to mind and I’m ready to write, I plan my story out from beginning to end as a list of bullet points. I have also found an amazing trick I now use, which is that I keep a grid of characters and every time I write something in my story about a character (for example someone has a Ford car, or they used to have a pet dog named Milo,) I make a note of it under that character’s name. It just helps me out in the long run to look back at what I know about each character. I add to this as I write the story, because for me character attributes become more apparent the further into the story you get.
So, to plan or not to plan, which is right for you?
So whilst in my Writer’s Workshop lesson, an author came in to speak to us and gave me this lovely technique, which has helped me since write a short story and also a poem!
First of all you shut your eyes. Imagine yourself led down. Where are you led? What’s the weather like? Take notice of your surroundings. Each time someone does this, they imagine themselves somewhere completely different. I imagined myself in a dark field at night, whereas my friend imagined herself led on a beach.
After taking notice of your surroundings (Eyes still shut) turn your head to the left, there is a shadow approaching. Wait for it to get closer. What or whom is it? When they reach you, what do they want? Again I imagined my cat who had died years back approaching me, whereas my friend imagined a boy.
From this I managed to get a short story about going to a field to visit my dead cat every night, because I couldn’t let her go. I asked my friend to do this technique and wrote a poem from her experience.