Am I using Em Dashes Correctly? I just got some edits back from a friend on my book. In the notes he's written for me, he thinks that I am a bit EM dash trigger happy, or not using them correctly. I'm not sure what to think anymore after reading his comments. It has put my whole usage of EM dashes into doubt. I just want to go over four sentences, if I may with you guys to see what your opinions are. Example 1: "Let's go to the gardens -- or we could walk around town a bit," Tina said. I used the dash in this case, cause I wanted to signify a slight pause when the characters says it. The way I used the EM dash -- is that acceptable? Or would a comma be better or no punctuation at all between the two clauses. Example 2: "That's it -- I've had it with you racks!'" My friend says EM dash is not necessary here. It is better replaced by an exclamation mark. "That's it! I've had it with you racks!'" I agree as I think the exclamation mark would be more effective, but is it still wrong to write it with the EM dash? Example 3: The clothes, mostly white, were all twisted, torn, and wet -- and buried in dirt. My friend suggested to change it to The clothes, mostly white, were all twisted, torn, and wet. They were also buried in dirt. Did I use the EM dash wrong? Example 4: "Those are bold words--" he said, twisting his sword, and trying to make himself look fiendish. "--for a boy without a weapon." My friend says commas are better here. He thinks it should be written as: "Those are bold words," he said, twisting his sword, and trying to make himself look fiendish, "for a boy without a weapon." I don't know if I agree or not. If the character was just saying it without all that stuff in the middle, I would write it like this: "Those are bold words -- for a boy without a weapon." I would want the slight pause between the two clauses. Is a comma just as effective: "Those are bold words, for a boy without a weapon." Which one is better or is it just a stylish choice/preference? I do however, see my friend's point of view. I think with all that stuff in the middle, it actually already creates a pause, making the EM dash redundant. EM dash or commas? ________________________________________________________________ Final Note: I see EM dashes used a lot in speech in the novels I read, so I don't think I am trigger happy. However, it may be my usage (Am I using it wrong, or perhaps sometimes I am just picking the EM dash when there is stronger punctuation I can use), or it could be my friend is not used to seeing so much EM dashes in speech in the novels he reads. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts and opinions. Thank-you.