Punctuation — A road map leading the reader through your story

In a few days my wife, Susan, and I leave on an Alaskan cruise aboard the Island Princess along with a 3-day stay at two of the Princess Wilderness Lodges.  Our itinerary is the same as the one described in the opening chapters of Black Diamonds, my first book and the the first in the “Colors of Alaska Trilogy”. We will also visit our son, who fell in love with Alaska and moved to Homer after visiting us while we were there in 2006.

During this trip I will be working on, Blue Ice, the second book in the trilogy, which I hope to have out in September.  The title, Blue Ice, represents the awe inspiring blue of the glaciers.  I know I will find inspiration for my book every moment of the day on this once in a lifetime trip.  I will be posting more frequently during this trip to share with you the beauty of Alaska and hopefully pique your interest in Blue Ice.  Below is a picture taken while on our trip to Alaska in 2006.  Although nothing can capture the incredible beauty of the glaciers and the blue ice found within, hopefully this gives you a glimpse of Alaska and have you wanting to come back for more.

As much as I enjoy coming up with an interesting and compelling story, a good story alone isn’t the only requirement in writing a book.  If the author misuses grammar and punctuation or hasn’t checked for misspelled words, the reader can quickly lose interest.  It is especially critical that punctuation is used correctly.  Punctuation is the road map that leads a reader through your story.

Below is an exercise I came across many years ago that illustrates how important punctuation is.

An English professor wrote the words, “Woman without her man is nothing” on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly. 

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.” 

The women wrote: “Woman!  Without her, man is nothing.”

A slight change in punctuation can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence.  Above, you can see that the same few words with slightly altered punctuation rendered two entirely different meanings.

Here are 10 quick EzineArticles punctuation tips

1. Spacing after punctuation: One (1) space only is required after every punctuation mark (period, exclamation mark, question mark, colon, semicolon, commas, etc.), including bullets and numbers.

2. Never use excessive punctuation!!!!! This will not create a greater sense of urgency or strong emotion, especially in formal writing.

3. Periods and commas always go inside of quotation marks.
Example: “I think you’re great.”

4. There is never a space before a period or before a comma.

5. When doing this “…” you should use only 3 dots.

6. When using dashes, use two in a row.
Example: Punctuation — 10 Rules

7. Use no spaces on either side of a hyphen.
Example: We need twenty-five boxes.

8. Use a question mark only after a direct question.
Example: Can I ask you a question?

9. Use parentheses to enclose words or figures that clarify.
Example: Use only one (1) space after a punctuation mark.

10. If the last word in a sentence ends in a period, do not follow it with another period.
Example: I know that C.E.O. He is my boss.

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