“Good writing involves obsessing over punctuation marks” writes Kathryn Schulz in a post at Vulture. “Itâ€™s 1 a.m., youâ€™ve got a 5,000-word piece due the next day, and for the last twenty minutes youâ€™ve been deliberating about the use of a semicolon versus a period in a single sentence.” Been there. Why obsess over these “humble elements” of prose? Because when they are used effectively, they can have a large impact on the reader.
In her post, Schulz highlights five of the best examples of “remarkable punctuation” in literature. My favorite is the use of a colon in the opening line of A Christmas Carol. “This sentence is insane, or anyway destined to foment insanity in the grammatically prissy. It has death, a dangling participle, and a wonderfully garrulous narrator with some kind of unmentionable Victorian-era disease: wandering colon. It is great.”