By the Dots

As a writer who started serious endeavors back in college earning his BA and MA in English, I’ve had a lot of experience with the elements of style. There are so many things I’ve picked up along the way but one thing stands out as personally significant.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “By the Dots.” We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

I had grown to overuse parentheses to signify asides in my writing. I noticed it not after writing but years later going through looking for good stuff and finding out I was doing this in an exorbitant fashion. Here’s an example:

I had lunch (my favorite meal of course) with my brother (I have one and two sisters).

I see this over usage with many bloggers. I think it’s tempting to do it because in blogging you are simply relaying a diary to your readers. There aren’t the usual trappings of MLA or APA and certainly no one giving you a grade per se.

I think about the silent readers, the ones who never comment. The best way to consider them is to read my work before and after it’s published making changes if needed. I decided to self-impose a ban on parentheses for a while. That was almost 3 years ago. I guess I realized they were almost never necessary. For asides, appositives, and extra notes I want put in a sentence I no longer use parentheses. Now I just use the comma appositive sort of format. I feel this has made me a better writer and hopefully a more palatable one for my reader.