authors, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Ten mistakes a reader never misses: Imprecise punctuation (Part 6)

It’s not just about what you say but how you say it.  Punctuation defines your voice—your unique way of speaking to your reader. Which punctuation mark should you choose? Which one communicates the sentence to the reader the way you heard it in your head when you wrote it? Which one reflects your personal style and voice? A good editor should  polish your punctuation to reflect your voice. No matter your subject matter or whether your book is scholarly or casual, precise punctuation throughout your book breathes life into your words and whispers in the reader’s ear, “Wow, this author really knows how to communicate exactly what they want to say.”. Good punctuation can bring emphasis to the right word or words and used properly, it can create a rhythm to the writing that takes the reader on a pleasant ride.

So which of these sentences uses the correct punctuation?

It was his best book , written with the greatest care.

It was his best book ; written with the greatest care.

It was his best book : written with the greatest care.

It was his best book — written with the greatest care

It was his best book written with the greatest care.

In different contexts any of these could be preferable. It depends on what you want to say and where you want the emphasis. They all “sound” different if read out loud  Th e comma, colon, and dash are the most likely candidates, but even among them, the choice becomes a matter of the way you express yourself. Your editor should “listen” for your voice in the text  and then adjusts the punctuation to you, your voice, and your story. That’s why having a competent editor look at manuscript can only make it better.

….precise punctuation throughout your book breathes life into your words

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