You’ve heard of writing prompts, now we have revision prompts! Each prompt will give you a specific writing issue to check for in your WIP, along with tips on how to fix each. Going through this process one issue at a time will not only help polish your current novel but will also teach you specific ways to improve your writing for your next story.
WHAT IS A SEMI-COLON – A punctuation mark between independent clauses (both can stand alone as complete sentences) that are not already joined by a conjunction (and, but, since, etc.), and the sentences on each side of the semi-colon are so closely related that they are read together almost as if one sentence.
From Martin H. Manser, Good Word Guide, 7th ed. A & C Black, 2008: “Unlike many of the other punctuation marks, there is no occasion on which the semicolon cannot be replaced by another form of punctuation … ”
- “I never vote for anyone; I always vote against.”
(W. C. Fields)
- “Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.”
SEARCH FOR: Every semi-colon
1) Can the words on either side of the semi-colon stand alone as a complete sentence? If not, a comma should be used instead.
2) Is the semi-colon followed by a list of items or a quote? If so, a colon should be used instead.
3) Are the complete sentences on either side of the semi-colon closely related in their thought and read together so seamlessly that it has the feel of one sentence? If the answer to either is no, then a period should be used instead.
1) Since this is such an important invention, I’m going to blog about it next week. (“Since” at the beginning of the first clause makes it dependent and it can’t stand by itself, so a comma is needed, not a semi-colon.)
2) I need to remember to pack everything for the conference in my briefcase: my laptop, a notebook, pens, highlighters, and my appointment schedule. (A list of items should be introduced by a colon, not a semi-colon.)
3) This is such an important invention; it ranks up there with the computer and sliced bread. (The words on both sides of the semi-colon can stand as independent sentences, the content of the sentences is closely related. It is read almost as one sentence, with less of a pause than a period.)
One of the keys to publication is a willingness to learn. We hope our Revising Prompts will help you learn more about the craft of writing and speed you on your way to publication.