Parentheses, ellipses and dashes, oh my!

I have to admit to a love affair with the three versatile punctuation marks in this post’s title.  But like too many love affairs, this one is driven by undemanding attraction, convenience and an avaricious need for immediate gratification.  Mind you there is a place for such pleasures.  What I’m finding out is that given further effort and a deeper goal, the written word can be deeply satisfying and more in-depth.

Let me explain.  More and more what I’m reading is rife with said punctuation.  The writing is cute, flashy and trendy.  Like I said, there is a place for that.  If I’m writing a piece that’s short and sassy, cute, flashy and trendy may be just what I want.  If, however, I’m writing a piece that aspires to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature or a Pulitzer, limiting the use of such razzle-dazzle would probably be prudent.  I know, I know, winning a Nobel or a Pulitzer is not the goal of writing.  I’m just trying to show the pendulum swing from ditzy prose (which I occasionally write on purpose) to Literature (notice the capital “L”.)  While it grates my last nerve when people discuss literature as if it has a capital “L” and does not include genre or speculative fiction, I’m using it to make my point – which I then had to qualify.  Yeah.  That will probably be another post.

I was watching the past season of  The Voice at Hulu.com.  I never seem to be in front of the television at the right time, so I try and watch The Voice, America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent on the computer.  I love those shows but sometimes I get bored and play solitaire or Mahjongg at the same time – or even (gasp) click through the rehash parts and the yadda-yadda-yadda.  My point is that when the coaches work with the contestants, they invariably tell them their remarkable abilities to warble and hit Cloud Nine with vocal temerity is admirable, but it has more impact if it’s done less often.  The point of delivering a song is to impact, not merely impress the listener.  Impress them and they go “Oooooh.  Wish I could sing like that.”  Impact them and they go “Oooooh.  Where can I buy that?”

I looked up the ins and outs of usage for each of these punctuation marks and more, but I don’t have room in this post to recap it for you.  So here’s your homework:  Look it up yourself.  I’ll even supply some reference sites.

There are proper and improper ways to go about even a relationship based on infatuation.  Really.

Here’s what I found:

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/dashes-parentheses-commas.aspx

http://www.myenglishteacher.net/dashes.html

http://www.uhv.edu/ac/newsletters/writing/grammartip2005.10.25.htm

http://darcknyt.deviantart.com/journal/Dots-and-Dashes-The-Em-Dash-and-Ellipsis-214173994

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ellipsis.aspx

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/how-to-use-ellipses.aspx

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