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(Short List)   "Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing." - 50 pieces of writing advice; from authors   ( divider line
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4651 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 07 Apr 2013 at 8:29 AM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-04-07 02:14:31 AM  
6 votes:
Do not use semicolons; they are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.

2013-04-07 08:45:05 AM  
3 votes:
But my code won't compile without them!!!!
2013-04-07 11:59:59 AM  
2 votes:
Aside from the fact that most of those "pieces of writing advice" were "thoughts from authors about literature, storytelling, or the written word in general", interesting.
2013-04-07 11:18:50 AM  
2 votes:

t3knomanser: bborchar: I agree that semicolons are overused; however, they are necessary in some types of sentences.

I agree that they are sometimes necessary. Your example, however, is a bad one; the secondary clause could easily stand alone, or been brought more intimately included in the sentence.

"I agree that semicolons are overused. They are, however, necessary in some types of sentences."
"I agree that semicolons are overused, but they are necessary in some types of sentences."

It's still a valid use of a semicolon.  Anyone who says "you can NEVER use this in writing" is an idiot.  Yes, some things can be overused or used incorrectly, but that doesn't mean you have to  always avoid using them when there is a valid reason to do so.
2013-04-07 11:00:59 AM  
2 votes:
I agree that semicolons are overused; however, they are necessary in some types of sentences.

/that is all
2013-04-07 09:26:09 AM  
2 votes:
How can a hermaphrodite be a transvestite? Seems to me whatever he/she is wearing would be the right sex for him/her.
2013-04-07 09:04:39 AM  
2 votes:
"Page 1 of 51"?

[closes tab]
2013-04-07 08:56:12 AM  
2 votes:
cppfile.cpp: In function `int main()':cppfile.cpp:7: parse error before `>'
Well what do you know?  Turns out authors are crap for C++ advice.
2013-04-07 08:31:54 AM  
2 votes:
I use semicolons all the time; they provide a break that's more than a comma, but less than a period. Hence their appearance, eh?
2013-04-07 07:32:20 AM  
2 votes:
"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

-- Mark Twain

Damn right.
2013-04-07 03:13:23 PM  
1 vote:

wiredroach: People today seem to hate subtlety and shades of meaning.

Using a semicolon to amplify a sentence is the exact opposite of being "subtle" or "shading" meaning. Subtlety and shading arise from what is  not said. Direct sentences allow a very fine control over what is not said; complex and crowded sentences add details that probably aren't needed. Subtlety is a scalpel. The semicolon is a cudgel.
2013-04-07 03:08:44 PM  
1 vote:

t3knomanser: It's grammatically valid, certainly, but it's still a poor usage of a semi-colon. It needn't be there, and it really shouldn't be there. I stand by my initial statement: a semi-colon is a sign that two poorly written sentences have been merged together to make a single poorly written sentence.

A semicolon joins two complete sentences where the second sentence amplifies or clarifies the meaning of the first. Semicolons are in no way inferior to using a period or rewriting the second sentence into a clause; they're often more elegant. I think the problem often lies not with poorly-written sentences, but poorly read sentences. People today seem to hate subtlety and shades of meaning. They want short, stark bursts of information, and our pal the semicolon doesn't work that way.
2013-04-07 02:28:53 PM  
1 vote:
This explains why Vonnegut is so prone to writing either short blurbs or ridiculous run-on sentences. I never understood why so many people hold him in such high regard. He's okay, but he's not what I'd consider a good storyteller.

But then, I also frown on people who believe Shakespeare is the be-all, end-all of writers, too.

Honestly-- and I know he's considered lowbrow and common these days-- I think Stephen King has an amazing way of telling a story. He doesn't always tell a GOOD story, but the WAY he tells it is always easy on the eyes, and quite natural-sounding/feeling.  He's not the best writer ever, but King is a good storyteller.

Anyway, people who are pretentious about literature are the least interesting people to be around when you talk about books. The purpose of writing is to express information-- A story, instructions, etc.--and people who think that it serves some higher purpose and requires amazing credentials and education are the ones who suck all the joy out of it. If you can tell a story/impart the information, make it interesting, and keep the reader's interest then you have succeeded as a writer.

If you're reading a book and you have to force yourself through it, then you have to ask yourself:  Why is this considered a classic?

Most people will assume it's a failing of their own intellect or attention span, but honestly, a lot of so-called "classics" are examples of pretentious, overbearing, self-important writing that are neither fun, nor entertaining. They're purely of interest as a point of academic study.

There's a difference between an English professor and a writer. One is overly concerned with sentence structure, grammar rules, and the technical aspects of writing, while the other isn't boring.

There's a place for writing skills, of course, but the technicalities should  never get in the way of telling a good story.
2013-04-07 11:27:20 AM  
1 vote:
Of course it's Vonnegut who says that about semicolons. Overrated hack.
2013-04-07 09:36:23 AM  
1 vote:
Frank Herbert
"There is no real ending. It's just the place where you stop the story."

That would explain how Dune became 8 books with no overarching narrative....
2013-04-07 09:10:38 AM  
1 vote:
2013-04-07 08:57:26 AM  
1 vote:
cppfile.cpp: In function `int main()':
cppfile.cpp:7: parse error before `>'

Or we could try it like this...

/Goddamn crappy WYSIWYG editor.
2013-04-07 08:53:57 AM  
1 vote:

ginandbacon: These people cannot seriously expect anyone to just start clicking on fifty pictures one by one for a single tip, can they? Sites like this are anathema to me.

I have no idea where the concept came from, but I've been studiously ignoring it since its birth.  It's worse than a slideshow.
2013-04-07 07:07:32 AM  
1 vote:
These people cannot seriously expect anyone to just start clicking on fifty pictures one by one for a single tip, can they? Sites like this are anathema to me.
2013-04-07 04:15:15 AM  
1 vote:
Use semicolons; they're awesome.
2013-04-07 03:25:48 AM  
1 vote:
"50 pieces of writing advice; from authors "

Of course you know that that is not how you use a semicolon.
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