My Inner Perfectionist


Writing Life


Nowadays we have so many right ways to do things that I usually choose the easiest way and move on. Recently, however, that policy has broken down. I’m going to have to let little Miss Priss Perfectionist out in order to save my writing career.

I have good Beta readers. They told me I needed to spruce up my punctuation. I resisted, but then I thought: why should I be lacking in anything, when a bit of concentration will improve my writing and make it easier for my dear editor when we’re getting ready to publish another book?

What had me confused was that many of the writing rules taught in middle school were out-dated or not even true as we were learning them. One was that you shouldn’t begin a sentence with and nor but. Another was that you couldn’t place a preposition at the end of a sentence. I learned from an English professor from Wheaton on a CD course that any preppie that wanted to live at the end of a sentence should be allowed to do so.

My problem was with the almost microscopic comma, and its two cohorts, the semicolon, and the colon.

Anyhow, I went looking for technical writing books in my home library and I came to The Little, Brown Handbook I bought at a sale a few months ago. I looked it over, but it was so dense I didn’t know where to start using it so I put it away. I was the dense one, of course, not Little Brown.

Today, I decided that as an Indie writer I need to adopt a manual of style in the same way that long ago I adopted the Bible as the one basic book for guidance in my life. So because I have it on hand, I’m going to make the Little Brown Handbook my own. Oh, yes, I know I can look things up on the Internet, but that also gives many options and for my own peace of mind, I want to settle on one way of doing things

I picked the tome out of the bookcase, laid it on my lap, and opened it. Right in the middle, randomly exposed, was the information I needed. As Corrie ten Boom used to say, What a joy! Next, I will see what Little Brown has to say about the use of italics.

I made up a love story to entertain my brain as it retains the coma, semi colon, and colon information.

Two sentences got married by Justice of the peace, Comma, and a conjunction named And.

And and Comma went away so the sentences had to separate and each take on a period for a while.

The two got back together when Semicolon came along, all by herself, to help out.

For a short time, Semicolon wasn’t available so Colon took over. When And and Comma returned they became the mainstay of the family. Semicolon and Colon were invited occasionally, Semicolon more frequently than Colon because you never knew when Colon might become overbearing.

The two sentences had much in common and needed to stay together. That meant that as long as they had And with Comma, or Semicolon or Colon around they would live happily ever after.


Keep writing,





  1. Excellent little lesson on the importance of guidance, knowing and accepting your deficiencies and renewing a commitment to improve.

  2. That was clever using the love story to explain your points. Love it. Great post, and great reminder.

  3. I enjoyed your love story. I was a semicolon abuser – according to my editor. I was told “If you use a semicolon, get rid of it and make it two sentences.” [glances around] I don’t get rid of them all.

  4. Oh, grammar is such my downfall. Thank God I have good editors. I couldn’t write a sentence without some sort of parenthetical or subordinate clause getting in my way. And don’t get me started on “em–dashes” now. I just do what I’m told and fix them. Great post!

  5. Good reminders, I think I need to go back to school for some refresher courses!

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