Friday, September 03, 2021

Interesting punctuation

Came across this in Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs, in the heroine's viewpoint. A private detective is guarding a  client. He says on the phone:

"I'm kinda hoping her soon-to-be-ex shows up," he said softly; I thought so she wouldn't hear him.

Semicolons always seem a bit academic and formal to me. Most times when I see one in popular fiction I feel it could be advantageously replaced by two sentences.

"I'm kinda hoping her soon-to-be-ex shows up." He said it softly, probably so this client wouldn't hear him.

But .  .  . though my editorial alternative might be slightly clearer,  Briggs' choice — or her editor's choice . . . this 'feels' like an editorial correction — is maybe the better writing. It uses POV so neatly.


  1. Jo, in the original sentence, I would remove the semicolon and add a comma after "thought." I like the tighter phrasing of the original.

    1. I have an uncomfortable relationship with colons and semicolons. They seem a bit academic and formal to me. Suited to serious subjects and nonfiction. A bit distracting in fiction.

      That said, many fine writers use them freely and to good effect. Ultimately, it's authorial choice, isn't it?