I’m A Semicolon Addict

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Reflections, Writing
Tags: , ,

semicolon: a grammatical tool of punctuation used to indicate two interdependent statements.

If anyone has read a good deal of my writing, they’ll know I like using the semicolon a little bit too much. I didn’t realize how much I liked using it until recently though, when my friend Matt Williams, who is editing Reborn City, pointed out how many semicolons I use and started taking them out of the stories. And then the other day, while critiquing a classmate’s short story for our creative writing class, I noticed how often she used semicolons as well, and how periods or different ways of phrasing the sentence can really affect how the sentence and the paragraphs flows.

With all that in mind, I realized how much I used the semicolon, and how I was really better off not using it as I had. So I decided to get rid of it, and to come out here and admit that I’m a semicolon addict. However, I am working on getting over this habit. For instance, during the editing of Snake I started cutting out many of my semicoloned sentences and phrases, changing them so that they were either all one sentendce or two independent sentences. And on my latest short story, which I’m naming Vile, my aim is to write the entire story without using the semicolon once. Hopefully then I’ll be able to get over this habit that my writing can do without.

Oh, and speaking of habits, here’s one writing habit I picked up recently that I’m unsure of its origin. In a few short stories I’ve written, I’ll describe something in a sentence that manages to encompass the development of something over a long period of time into a few words. For instance, when writing about a character’s relationship with his girlfriend: “They first connected over their biology projects, then over their mutual interest in Gothic literature, and then finally they connected with their bodies”. Or in Vile, the main character describing what his wife had done while he’d been dead: “She had continued to live and thrive and undergo plastic surgery that allowed her to look like a college student again.”

You see those two sentences? They encompass so much, but say it in so little. I like it, but I can’t help but feel that I picked it up recently from some author I read either over winter break or in my American Lit class. Any ideas whom I might’ve picked it up from? Because I have absolutely no idea at all!

  1. Abba says:

    There is no such thing as too much when it comes to semicolons.

  2. Joel Ungar says:

    “They first connected over their biology projects, then over their mutual interest in Gothic literature, and then finally they connected with their bodies”. I think that sentence is too long and you use connected twice.

    Just saying.

  3. Oh dear, I did not expect an intervention like this. Rami, we’re here because we care… you have a problem with semi-colons! They are not a substitute for periods, man!

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