April 23, 2013

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ronald E. Osborn

Will I ever master my craft? Is there a key to doing so? I don't know, but no matter how much I study, I learn something new from editors.

During edits for my book, For All Time, I learned about em dashes. That being said, I'll share that bit of knowledge with fellow writers. I mean, I'm not the only one who didn't know the correct usage of em dashes. Right? *crickets chirping* Ahem...okay I'm sharing anyway.

The original line:
"Quit acting like a monkey and pay attention to what you're—" She winced with each crack, thud, and grunt until he finally landed on the forest floor, "...doing."
                                                     Edited version:
"Quit acting like a monkey and pay attention to what you're"—she winced with each crack, thud, and grunt until he finally landed on the forest floor—, "doing."

Here's a bit more clarification regarding the use of em dashes to keep the interruptions in your writing running smooth. Uh...what a contradiction, but you know what I mean. 

From the Chicago Manual of Style 
6 : Punctuation
6.90 Indicating sudden breaks
An em dash or a pair of em dashes may indicate a sudden break in thought or sentence structure or an interruption in dialogue.
If the break belongs to the surrounding sentence rather than to the quoted material, the em dashes must appear outside the quotation marks.
“Will he—can he—obtain the necessary signatures?” asked Mill.
“Well, I don’t know,” I began tentatively. “I thought I might—”
“Might what?” she demanded.
“Someday he’s going to hit one of those long shots, and”—his voice turned huffy—“I won’t be there to see it.”
6.91 Used in place of, or with, a comma:
If the context calls for an em dash where a comma would ordinarily separate a dependent clause from an independent clause, the comma should be omitted.

Because the data had not been fully analyzed—the reason for this will be discussed later—the publication of the report was delayed.
 But if an em dash is used at the end of quoted material to indicate an interruption, a comma should be used before the words that identify the speaker. 

“I assure you, we shall never—,” Sylvia began, but Mark cut her short.

 Did you learn something new lately? Please comment and share.

Now that I've got em dashes under my belt, I'm going to master something else... maybe apostrophes...or commas...or semi-colons...or the overuse of ellipses'.

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