Scalzi says I use too many dashes

I’ll admit it — I use more than my fair share of dashes. Here’s what John Scalzi has to say about dashes:

Dashes: You can use these when you’ve already used a colon or a semi-colon in a sentence, but be aware that if you have more than one colon or semi-colon in a sentence, you’re probably doing something wrong.

I’d argue — nay, insist — that there are other uses for dashes, regardless of whether my own use of dashes is appropriately restrained.

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6 Responses to Scalzi says I use too many dashes

  1. coturnix says:

    In every sentence I write I have to fight against the urge to put a couple of wild dashes! Mad dashes. I LOVE dashes!

  2. Scott says:

    “if you have more than one colon or semi-colon in a sentence, you’re probably doing something wrong”

    so much for Henry James.

  3. dave says:

    In Scalzi’s defense, he is spinning this as advice for non-professional writers.

  4. ed says:

    If you’re not including a period in your sentence, you’re probably doing something wrong.

  5. Anne says:

    I’m with coturnix. I have just barely escaped the urge to put exclamation points everywhere. (Partly because blogging allows them, so it’s a good release valve. But the dash! The dash! How great is the dash?)

    I think of it–and explain it to my students–with some combination of algebra and music. Commas, those trusty little devils, do great work setting off parentheticals unobtrusively & neutrally. Parentheses (which I seldom use) set off parentheticals with a digressive whisper. But the lovely dash–the enthusiastic, happy, exuberant dash–sets off parentheticals wtih a trumpet.

  6. Bud Parr says:

    wow i was just thinking about this this morning as i walked home from the coffee shop to find a dairy free muffin for my wife i dont know anything about grammar but i use a lot of dashes because of the way that i feel about sentences and thats my right im using no marks here to avoid talking about dashes with dashes in my sentence which is so tempting its just about communication and everyone has their own style and taste know yourself and know your audience and if they dont match up choose which one to ignore

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