Using proper grammar can be daunting. This week we are going to discuss the application of the colon, semicolon, and those nasty adverbs. Whether you are writing a paper, or a book it is important to understand the fundamentals of writing. This will allow you to understand when to stray from the path of proper grammar, and how to do it. As writer's often do. Allow us to dive right in.
Colon in sentences (:) A colon is only used after a complete clause, or sentence if you want to call it that. What follows is directly related to the sentence and may not necessarily be a complete sentence.
Ø There are two choices at this time: run away or fight.
Ø We knew who would win the Football game: the Lions.
Ø I bought a lot of meat at the store: bacon, turkey, beef, and tuna.
A quick phrase to remember the colon. “Use your colon for definition.”
Semicolon in sentences (;) a punctuation indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.
Holy crap what does all that even mean? Well, it means that to use a semicolon, you need to slap it dead smack between two complete clauses (sentences). This is very important. You can only use a semicolon between two complete, and related sentences! Another little rule, is that you use a semicolon when you want to pack a bigger punch than a simple comma.
Ø John is going bald; his hair is getting thinner and thinner.
Ø Star Trek was one of my favorite television shows in the 60’s; in fact, it was my favorite television show of all time.
Ø I had a huge meal; however, I am already hungry.
A quick phrase to remember the semicolon. “Chickens keep dogs on lead.”
Now we can get into the wretched adverbs. Adverbs aren't a bad thing. Some might say they get a bad rap. Well when it comes to writing, we try not to use them whenever possible. When we do we begin to tread into the ‘tell’ area and away from the ‘show area.
An adverb is a word that modifies or qualifies and adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc.
These words often end in -ly. Here are a few examples, and by no means complete.
When we use adverbs, we tend to weaken the strength of our story. We take the readers ability to visualize what is happening. This is not to say that adverbs are never used. Figure out a way to write your story without using them. You may find that you are far more resourceful than you gave yourself credit for. Sometimes an adverb, is what the writer ordered, because it works. As long as it furthers your story, then go for it. I will say this though, in 14 chapters I can count on one hand how many adverbs I used. Of course, that may change after some editing. If you want to hear more about this topic tune in to my Podcast later tonight.