The seventh meeting of my manuscript writing class met on Tuesday. I found out that semi-colons are frowned upon in fiction writing. Oops. That’s too bad; I happen to like semi-colons in certain instances. The instructor played a YouTube video clip of Kurt Vonnegut expressing his opinion of semi-colons. Here is the quote:
Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.
Harsh, right? I went to college and I’m proud of my degree, but I suspect that Mr. Vonnegut’s college reference wasn’t meant to be complimentary. (You can’t get anything past me.)
Until Tuesday, I had no idea that semi-colons were the pariahs of punctuation in fiction writing. After this wisdom was shared with me, I found myself casually looking over the rough draft of the story that I was to turn in at the end of class. Four semi-colons. Ouch.
Last night, I did a quick search of my novel manuscript and found the horrifying truth: 306 semi-colons scattered over the 385 pages. I even had one in my very first sentence (gasp!) To think, if I collected 79 more semi-colons, each page would have one of its own.
Okay, I can’t believe I never noticed this before because it’s so obvious: I have advanced ESCUD (Excessive Semi-Colon Use Disorder). Now that you know my terrible secret, I hope you don’t think less of me. (And I hope you don’t think less of me because your opinion was already so low it couldn’t possibly get worse.)
Yes, I admit that I am a fiction newbie and I have been a safe-haven for persecuted semi-colons everywhere. They were not welcome in the fiction world, so I opened my manuscript and gave them a place to prosper. But I had no idea of the dangers of ESCUD.
As part of my recovery, and in light of my new-found knowledge about how detestable semi-colons are, I’m entering intense therapy, which requires me to exile semi-colons from my manuscript at once. I do feel a little guilty, but I have to build a reputation as a serious author. I know it’s selfish of me to sacrifice those poor, mistreated semi-colons for the sake of my dream. But, what can I say? Fiction is a tough world.
<Sigh> Oh, all right. I’ve got room for just one of you. See there; isn’t that cozy?
Don’t judge me; recovery is a process 😉
Now you know my latest writing struggle. What’s your biggest writing challenge at the moment?
(If I’m the only one having issues, I’ll drown my inadequacies in dark chocolate.)