Monday, September 19, 2011

Bouchercon 2011: "Punctuation is your friend"

 The post's title was Thomas Kaufman's response to an intelligent question from an audience member at my Bouchercon 2011 panel on CRANKY STREETS: WHAT'S SO FUNNY ABOUT MURDER?

The panel's subject was comic crime fiction, and the questioner wanted to know the novelist's equivalent of the timing so essential to a good stand-up comedian's success. Kaufman knows that punctuation is essential to pace and that pace is essential to comedy. The man knows how to use his dashes and his commas, and I can offer no higher praise to a fellow human.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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4 Comments:

Blogger Luise in Cambridge said...

"...I can offer no higher praise to a fellow human." Given the current state of punctuation, you can't say this often enough. I had a hard time getting through Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead, the punctuation (or lack of it) was so horrific. (I tried to convey my thoughts to the author, but she was too busy picking up all the awards the book garnered, sans caveats.) Thanks heavens her new book seems to have returned to sanity. Keep your soapbox handy, as I will mine.

September 19, 2011  
Blogger Dana King said...

I'm sorry I missed that. I work hard to illustrate my characters' patterns and rhythm of speech, and find that punctuation and beats work well but I get pushback sometimes on using punctuation to imply pauses, etc. I'm glad to see I'm not along. Kaufman might be worth checking out for me.

September 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Given the current state of punctuation ...

Luise, thanks for the encouraging words. I work as a copy editor at a newspaper where common understanding seems sometimes to be lacking in the matter of correct use of commas. To hear an author who understands the importance of punctuation made my outlook on the world just a bit sunnier.

September 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, it would make a good exercise for readers to stop and analyze passages they find effective, then see how puntuation contributes to the effect. Better yet, they could read the passages aloud.

September 19, 2011  

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