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Use of semicolons and exclamation points in children's chapter books

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Hopefully I'm posting this in the appropriate place, still fairly new to all this. 

I'm living in the trenches of self-editing at the moment and have come across the advice of a published children's book author that states picture books are meant to be read aloud therefore the punctuation in them should be kept simple. She goes on to say that the use of colons, semicolons and exclamation points (only if someone is shouting or dying) should be used very sparingly.

I know my family frequently reads chapter books aloud, so does this advice also pertain to the chapter book I'm editing?  Also, do you agree with this author's advice?

I feel inclined to add exclamation points more frequently since my main character is a very excitable and spunky and the book is written from her POV. Should I learn to curb this inclination?
#1 - January 18, 2017, 01:37 PM

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Curb exclamation points?! I think not!

Just kidding.

[By the way, one of my daughter's elementary teachers used to call them "excite marks." We still have a good chuckle about that one.]

Anyhoo, my experience is that in picture books, punctuation is non-standard much of the time. Elipses for page turns, missing commas in lists, etc. And that's fine. In chapter books, I think the punctuation is more standard, depending on the age of the intended audience.

However, I agree that simplicity is best. So instead of a semicolon, can you simply end the sentence and begin a new one? If so, do it.

But limit the use of excite marks? I think not!!
#2 - January 18, 2017, 02:12 PM
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I don't think about rules in PB because they are such a different breed of book. But for chapter books, which are meant for children to read by themselves, you want to keep a simple sentence structure, with one idea per sentence. It makes reading easier. But "excite" marks?!!! (love that term Jody) Use appropriately. Too many can dilute the impact. Also, in a story, not everything is exciting even if the character is excitable. You want to ramp up the momentum as you get to the climax.
#3 - January 18, 2017, 02:49 PM
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Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

My almost-three-year-old is very into younger chapter books. Semicolons are not something g I see, because sentences are kept very simple. But exclamation points show up with reasonable regularity. At least several per book, in certain characters' cases.
#4 - January 18, 2017, 03:21 PM

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Here's the thing about rules in writing. They are there so you can break them for a reason, a story reason.

I would use all three minimally because it will keep sentences more comprehensible and no one shouts all the time. (Or, rather, that would get annoying quickly.) But do what best serves your story.
#5 - January 23, 2017, 07:23 AM

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I'm on record for agreeing *in general* with this writing advice. Not just for PBs.

(Older blog post- http://mirkabreen.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-pet-peeve-ration-your-exclamation.html )

But it's not a law, just a good suggestion born of a lot of reading and writing. Treat it, and all writing advice, with discernment for each instance. Better not think of such as cast in stone.  :yoda
#6 - January 23, 2017, 12:46 PM
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I would not use semi-colons in chapter books. That age group may not be all that familiar with that punctuation mark yet. If you feel the need to include compound sentences, join them with a comma and a conjunction. Simpler and more familiar. But depending on targeted age range, using mostly simple sentences would be your best bet.



#7 - January 24, 2017, 09:00 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

Thank you all for the feedback, it is appreciated. Your replies are in line with what my instinct was as well.  :)
 
#8 - January 26, 2017, 10:31 AM

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