Tool 9 ~ Let punctuation control pace and space.

“Learn the rules, but realize you have more options than you think.”

Something I already appreciate about Clark is his preference for tools, not rules.

Clark says, “My preference shows no disrespect for the rules of punctuation. They help the writer and the reader as long as everyone remembers that such rules are arbitrary, determined by consensus, convention, and culture” (45).

Clark claims punctuation has two purposes (46):

1. To set the pace of reading

2. To divide words, phrases, and ideas into convenient groupings (the space)

Punctuation gives writing musical rhythm. It denotes the author’s voice (some authors use commas in the middle of everything), and it can be taken out or added back in at new places to change the movement of the piece.

In an ending exercise, Clark encourages repunctuating a piece (and yes, he uses the word repunctuate although wordpress spell check is not fond of it!). Have fun. Learn the rules and then be creative.

One of my favorite parts about this tool is seeing Clark’s usage of punctuation. As he looks at each common punctuation piece (the comma, semicolon, dash, etc.), he incorporates the piece he is talking about into his explanation. Humorous.




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