I’ve finally caved to the lure of the blogfest. I thought this one was a good place to start because I don’t have to put myself on the line really.
My Best Advice to New Writers Blogfest is run by Peevesh Penman. Pop on over and read other people’s posts.
So, advice to new writers, or all writers really, because I think it’s an important thing to remember.
Use your punctuation.
I had an amazing poetry lecturer, Bryan Walpert, who put it something like this: Writers have very little to work with. We have words, which come with their denotations and connotations. We have structure: how we choose to lay these words on the page. And we have punctuation.
Some people believe poetry is awesome because you don’t have to use punctuation. There was a girl in one of my classes that wrote a prose style poem with no capital letters despite there being sentences, names, etc that would ordinarily require them. Upon enquiry it turned out she didn’t do it for a purpose, she did it because she didn’t like capital letters. Needless to say, it was bloody hard to read.
This kind of mindset is detrimental to your craft, and not just for poetry. I was told by a different lecturer, about prose fiction, don’t use semi-colons, they draw attention to themselves. That’s just dumb. It’s punctuation; if it’s used right noone even notices it, and if you do notice every semi-colon I must assume it is because it’s unfamiliar punctuation to you.
So, my advice, get cosy with punctuation: get to know semi-colons and colons; become buddies with the dash, em-dash, ellipses, parentheses, square brackets; go for BFFs with full-stops (periods), commas and apostrophes.
Don’t be afraid of punctuation. Yes, it’s very powerful, but it also just wants to be your friend.
If you know when you should or could use punctuation then you can intentionally misuse it for effect. I’ve seen it well done, and have written an essay on Patricia Grace’s “Mirrors” in which I concluded (with evidence) that you could twist grammer rules to great effect if you knew what you were doing.
If you don’t know the rules, well… lets just say you are limiting your audience to those who also don’t know them.
Please don’t count the ways I’ve misused puncutation accidently in this post, I haven’t really proofed it. Ahh, the irony.