Friday, October 30

Grammar, Em Dashes, and a Cameo

As anyone who's glanced at my Twitter feed during the editing phase will know, I have a slight em dash problem. Like my other writing tics (I have a whole list), it's a problem I clear up during revision, and then I complain about it on Twitter.

Elizabeth Ditty, one of the Evil Cabal, just so happens to list improperly-used em dashes as a copyediting pet peeve. And so, to help us poor em dash addicts out, she blogged about the proper and improper use of them. Get thee to the post, post-haste, as not only is it a very helpful bl0g -- but I make a cameo.* I even have dialog! And it's quite appropriate to my character.

What are you waiting for? Get over there!

*Couldn't help myself. Had to use one.


  1. I'm rubbish at self-editing so I'd like to thank you for the link. ---'s today and who know maybe next week I'll master the...'s
    All the best

  2. Yipes I just realized that I use the incorrect elipses all the time in my twitter posts when I mean to use the em dash. No wonder I got such low scores on the grammar section of the SAT two back in the day.

  3. I love them too. Probably my favorite punctuation mark. It has so much personality!

  4. @the romantic No problem! Hope it helps you as much as it helped me, lol!

    @Tim You're not alone! We should start an em dash support group.

    @Tia They add drama, for me. Those wonderful--dramatic--pauses. Okay, stopping now...

  5. Parenthetical asides are our drug of choice...ooh, and ellipses. Amazing how those tend to pop up EVERYWHERE in our MS.

    Just noticed you're reading Under the Banner of Heaven? I read it a couple of years ago. What do you think?

  6. Mmmm, ellipses. I'm obsessed with ellipses, too. The worst moment in revision is when I have Word count all my ellipses and em dashes--that's when I realize the addiction is still raring.

    I actually have been horribly remiss in keeping up on my "What I'm Reading" in the sidebar--I finished Under the Banner of Heaven sometime last fall. I found it pretty fascinating, although there were times I had to put the book aside due to how disturbing some of it became. What did you think?


If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving