How do you like the title of this post? Did it make your eyes glaze over? Don’t worry. This won’t take long.
Let me start by freely admitting that punctuation is not my strong suit. I rely heavily on my grammar check program and the Handbook of Style punctuation guidelines in my dictionary to help me create error-free sentences. Despite my best efforts, I continue to make mistakes. You can ask my editors.
Here’s my complaint about punctuation: too much of it is subjective. I hate that.
Before you object, let me say that I am a faithful user of the Oxford comma. I’m also aware of the Chicago Manual of Style, though I lack the skill to accurately apply some of its more arcane pronouncements.
I have no doubt that if I gave one of my manuscripts to ten editors, I would get back ten different versions of grammar and punctuation requiring correction.
Don’t believe me? Look at the last two sentences in the first paragraph of this post. I could have used an ellipsis after “worry” to make it one sentence. I could have used a dash. I could even have used the much maligned semi-colon. It’s ridiculous.
What’s my point? Don’t worry about punctuation. A period is probably safer than a semi-colon, dash, or ellipsis, but don’t sweat it. Concentrate on the story that you’re building sentence by sentence. That’s what matters. A good editor will take care of the rest.