21 Harsh Truths from the Greats #13

13. Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut

Original Post

Heh, I have to admit, I pretty well love this one. I’m sort of addicted to the semi-colon, but I try only to use it when I’m writing things only I will ever see. Because it’s pretty much true – all they do is show off that you know when to use a semi-colon. Any reader that isn’t familiar with them will ignore them at best, and anyone that does know when to use them will again, ignore them at best. Distracting punctuation is only truly helpful in poetry. In good creative writing, the writing becomes invisible as the reader gets caught up in the content. The more masterfully written, the more likely your reader won’t remember if you said vermillion or tangerine, they’ll just remember the way the sky mirrored their swirling emotions as lead A and lead B said goodbye, or what have you. Writing is like make-up: when its done right, you can’t even tell its there. And we all know what happens when make-up goes wrong.

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