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Storytelling/Grammar Question

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  • #38443
    Anna Marie
    @annamarieoriginal

    Hello, everyone!

    I have a sentence in a short story I need to revise. Are the semicolons/hyphens/commas correct for this type of sentence?

    “Natalie met all of my cousins: Fredrick- an intelligent, laid-back college student; Ellen- a quiet but likable bookworm; and Chris- an active, blond-headed 15-year year old who was tossing a football in the yard.

    From a story-telling piont of view, are the side character intros too rushed, considering only Chris is important here? I would especially love to hear @mariposa, @josiah, and @scribbles!

    ~Anna Marie
    "Write the book you want to read." -Austin Kleon

    #38449
    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    Hyphens are incorrect. You want to use em dashes here (in most word processors, two hyphens in a row will auto-convert into an em dash). Either that or just replace the hyphens with commas. I would probably replace the semi-colons with commas as well, unless you end up replacing the hyphens with commas.

    These are very brief introductions, but I can’t tell without knowing the rest of the story whether they’re too rushed or not. If the characters aren’t terribly important, this is fine.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #38455
    Anna Marie
    @annamarieoriginal

    Thank you for your help, @josiah! I appreciate your response πŸ˜ƒ

    ~Anna Marie
    "Write the book you want to read." -Austin Kleon

    #38501
    Mariposa Aristeo
    @mariposa

    @annamarieoriginal I would recommend using commas over em dashes and keeping the semicolons. Too many em dashes can be distracting to readers.

    Besides that, it seems like there’s a little too much telling here. For instance, instead of saying how Ellen is a quiet but likeable bookworm, you could mention how she was sitting silently by a tree, reading, etc. πŸ™‚

    I think dinosaurs are cooler than dragons. πŸ¦–

    #38725
    Anna Marie
    @annamarieoriginal

    Thanks for the advice, @mariposa!

    ~Anna Marie
    "Write the book you want to read." -Austin Kleon

    #38735
    Rachel Rogers
    @scribbles

    @annamarieoriginal So here’s what I was taught about semicolons: think of them as “super commas.”

    They’re used to blend independent sentences when they seem too choppy separately but not distinct enough with a comma and conjunction.

    They’re also used to delineate a list of lists, which is what your sentence is. So, similar to what @mariposa said, I would swap out the dashes for commas and keep the semicolons, like this:

    Natalie met all of my cousins: Fredrick, an intelligent, laid-back college student; Ellen, a quiet but likable bookworm; and Chris, an active, blond-headed 15-year year old who was tossing a football in the yard.

    I also agree that it might be more effective to use actions to describe the cousins, like you do with Chris. πŸ™‚

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

    #38869
    Anna Marie
    @annamarieoriginal

    Thanks, @scribbles! That makes sense.

    ~Anna Marie
    "Write the book you want to read." -Austin Kleon

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