I reread I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb recently. HBO made the book into a mini-series. It was okay, but it made me long for the book.
As I was reading, I noticed some well-punctuated sentences. I wish I had marked all the pages with a Post-It note because now I can't find all of them. I have a couple to share with you, though:
"I know you had a bad . . . sometimes some of the guards here can get a little . . . well, he's okay."
Notice, please, the three spaced periods that start and finish the section of the sentence where the speaker kind of trails off but then gets back to the sentence.
Chicago approves, as do I.
"The codeine was either working or it wasn't working––I wasn't sure. I was still sore down there below the belt, but it was like, who gives a shit? Which I guess meant that it was working. . . . "
We need to talk about the em dash in the second sentence. As you can see, no spaces are used before and after, which is correct, according to Chicago. However, some publishing houses have their own style sheet and that might include a space before and after the em dash.
I also want you to take a look at the FOUR, count 'em, FOUR periods at the end of the sentence. The sentence trails off and the speaker doesn't continue with his thought, so it's not three periods. It's four, as in a period and three spaced periods. I learned long ago that it should be four spaced periods, but apparently this publisher prefers no space at the end of the sentence, which makes sense to me.
Chicago agrees with the period and then the three spaced periods, so there we go.
Did we all learn something?
Infinities of love,
|You learn it, Chester.|
Laughing at the sign.ReplyDelete
When people write I love it when it actually echos the way they talk. I think sometimes writers get too hung up with using everything grammatically and formally correct. With the punctuations in the sentences you used as examples, my mind could "hear" the words as they were spoken . (including the drugged drift)
And, yes, I learned something!
He writes beautifully doesn't he?ReplyDelete
Hooray for learning, and elegant writing.
Snorting at the sign.
Wally Lamb is great.Delete
I'm sure I learned all that in freshman English. In 1960.ReplyDelete
The year after I was born.Delete
I love when you share punctuation tips.ReplyDelete
That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.Delete
As a non-grammarian writerly type, (is this even English?) I am shocked that I actually knew and use punctuation just as in these^ examples. My use of commas, however, would not pass the Chicago Manual of Style test.ReplyDelete
Chicago and I love you anyway.Delete
Good examples! Matter of fact, the sentences you used as examples are so good, I definitely learned something. I learned that I want to read that book.ReplyDelete
It's so good. It's very long, but when I get started on a Wally Lamb book, I can't put it down.Delete
I take excetion to this post. No, I really don't. I just wanted to say that. For several years during my professional career, I was an editor using both Chicago and AP style depending on the product. Now, I pointedly don't give a crap and punctuate however the hell I feel like it. I call it MovingWithMitchell Style... and I will NOT be producing a manual.ReplyDelete
Oh, c'mon. I want a Mitchell Manual.Delete
I always put a space before and after an em dash. Fuck Chicago. And I always put a space before starting an ellipsis, even one that indicates a conclusion to the sentence by adding a fourth period. Fuck Chicago again. I am my OWN style manual!ReplyDelete
I love your attitude, Debra.Delete
Yes! I had no clue that it would a total of four dots. You taught me something which I'm grateful for because I stink at grammar!ReplyDelete
You don't stink at anything.Delete
Heard of the book and series but haven't seen or read such nothing else comes to mind so know I leaveReplyDelete
See ya later.Delete
I love English, it's my second language, but my first love. I also love to trail off with dots, but had no idea how to do that correctly. So three spaced dots when you trail off in the middle and add a fourth as a period right after the last word. I don't like the dash without spaces around it. And who/what is Chicago?ReplyDelete
The Chicago Manual of Style is the bible of the publishing industry.Delete
I have always liked Wally Lamb, thanks for reminding me of him and his books. I must check to see if he has any I haven't read.ReplyDelete
I've read three of his books, and I think a new one came out that I haven't gotten yet.Delete
Loved the Wally Lamb book. Haven't seen the series. I've never used four dots and that includes editing a newsletter and writing for our agency website for almost twenty years. The other issues make me realize I'm a Chicago Style person.ReplyDelete
The series wasn't great, but it was better than I expected it to be.Delete
Tsk, tsk, Mayor Chester.ReplyDelete
We have to go after Mayor Chester to teach him a lesson, Sandra.Delete
No excretions would be no fun.ReplyDelete
Oh, "excetions." Sorry, I miss-read that. Is that how to spell "miss-read"? I'm so paranoid now. I never knew about a four period thing. Damn. I'm more confused, because I really don't understand when to use it. The three dots to me mean that there's more (sentence trails off). Isn't a fourth one overkill? Sigh.
Love ya. Thanks for the lesson. Apparently, I needed it.
Don't worry too much about ellipses, unless you use them in a book that I'm going to edit and then they have to be perfect. It's misread.Delete