Punctuation in Novels

Here’s a neat article with various charts—and pretty pictures—at the end: “Punctuation in Novels” by Adam Calhoun. The idea of looking only at punctuation, in novels or anywhere else, is pretty intriguing. 


Dare I ask the extent we think about punctuation in our own writing practices? Would we see, clear as day, an overuse of exclamation points and m-dashes? Would we see just how little dialogue we use?!

Would we consider our punctuation a sign of formality or casual banter? Would it primarily reflect our characters and narrative or our own styles?

Maybe our pages could indicate our moods, style reflecting ourselves even more than our content on occasion. Maybe we would think, “Wow, I’m calmer than I thought.”

Maybe we could see how writing is an art, even on that level.

Sure sounds good to me! So, go add some sentences and, if you’re up for it, question marks, dashes, commas, and exclamation marks! Or cut out a few m-dashes. (Not to seem harsh, but I’m told they’re often overused as a sort of colloquial catch-all or pretension.)

Or, if you’d rather think today instead, consider that punctuation and punctual have the same root. Both are about coming to a point. I know I could use more practice and encouragement for both!


Leave a Comment

Filed under Style

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *