1. elias one stone
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    elias one stone New Member

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    kiss: keep it simple stupid

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by elias one stone, Jun 6, 2011.

    I feel the best way to deal with punctuation is to write simple sentences that need little or no punctuation.
    Over time then, one might develop a punctuation style if one so desired -- but there are a few general rules.
    Should punctuation be used to limit repetition? What is so wrong with repetition anyway?
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every sentence needs punctuation. To even BE a sentence, it needs to start with a capital letter (guess what. That's punctuation) and has to finish with a period (also punctuation).

    Repetition: the major problem with it is that it is used in an unwieldy way a lot of the time. If you've ever been teased at school, you'll know how annoying repetition is. For me, the insults weren't nearly so bad as the fact that those complete morons just used the same one over and over again.

    But in literature, repetition can be very VERY bad, or quite good. A general "rule" is to avoid starting two sequential paragraphs with the same word. I attempt to avoid starting sequential paragraphs with the same LETTER, even. It's just an aesthetic thing.

    Really, anything to do with punctuation or grammar or spelling or structure? It's all about aesthetics. Seriously. It's an unconventional form of aesthetics, but that's all it is.

    To be honest, punctuation won't limit repetition if the repetition is based on a word. Sometimes, repeating a word can be a literary device. Sometimes, repeating a word can happen because the writer seemed to think it was right to use it there. But if you use the same adjective within a few hundred words of each other (and while not referring to the same thing), it can visually jar you a little bit.
     
  3. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with the previous speaker. Repetition creates a certain effect, which is good when you do it on purpose, but can be bad when you do it by mistake.

    For example, rhymes make certain words or sentences stand out, have a stronger impact., and become easier to remember. This is used in song writing to make the song sound smooth and natural. It was used by ancient and medieval bards to memorise long stories. It was used by O.J. Simpson's defence attorney when he said to the jury, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit". If rhyme is used by mistake, it may sound odd and out of place.

    Using the same word several times in a row makes the prose awkward IMHO, except when it's used to emphasise similarity.
    Example: "We fought them in the air, we fought on the water, we fought them on land" sounds good, because it's emphasises the similarity between the three phrases and makes the whole sentence stronger.
    "When she asked about my date book, I rose and picked up my textbook, because I remembered I needed to return some books to the library" sounds odd and repetitive, because it repeats the same word in three dissimilar phrases.

    Regarding punctuation... I don't understand how puncuation is used to avoid repetition. Can you give an example?
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even when it IS done on purpose... :s

    And I think the OP meant repetition in structure of sentences, maybe? I'm not certain on that.
     
  5. McHamlet
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    McHamlet Member

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    I'd agree if you mean we shouldn't overstretch ourselves until we know the rules. I tell that to my English language students all the time. But I think, as writers, whether or not we choose to use simple sentences, it's a good idea to make ourselves aware of how to use punctuation effectively and to practice doing so regardless of whether we really desire to. In doing that, we open up a lot of choices in terms of style and effect that would otherwise be unavailable to us.

    Hemingway is, I suppose, the writer who most popularized the use of short simple sentences but he wasn't the first or the last word on literature. In any case, limiting ourselves to short simple sentences just shifts the burden of skill necessary to produce quality writing away from a knowledge of grammar/punctuation to other more abstract issues which are harder to pin down, but which he and those like him happen to be experts on.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd also like to know how you think punctuation could be used to limit repetition... sounds nonsensical to me...
     
  7. Glimpse
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    Glimpse Member

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    Just popping in to give an example.

    Instead of:
    He went to the station at three. He was late for the bus.

    Consider:
    He went to the station at three, but was late for the bus.

    This is the simplest way a comma (punctuation obviously) can make all the difference when you want to avoid being repetitive.
     
  8. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    In that second example you don't need the comma after three anyway.

    The first example is ok if you're writing for a three year old, but otherwise it's a bit too simple for a thinking reader.
     
  9. Glimpse
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    Glimpse Member

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    Mmm... yeah. You're right. It should be:

    He went to the station at three, but he was late for the bus.

    I was thinking of conjunctions. :/

    Let me amend that entire post:

    Instead of:
    He went to buy a pineapple. He went to buy an orange. He went to buy a mango.

    Consider:
    He went to buy a pineapple, an orange, and a mango.

    This is the simplest way a comma (punctuation obviously) can make all the difference when you want to avoid being repetitive.

    Also, that last part was really uncalled for. The point of the sentence was to make an example; not to show off my literary skills. Certainly it's a simple sentence for a three year old, but I can't be half-assed to think of anything more complicated when I'm trying to get a simple point across. I think you may need to check out the thread title instead of trying to antagonize me, intentionally or not.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's not simply 'using punctuation'... it's rewording sentences...
     
  11. Glimpse
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    Glimpse Member

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    Well yes, but nothing was said about using punctuation alone to limit repetition. I was merely going on the premise that you wanted proof that some form of punctuation could be used to limit punctuation.
    You cannot use punctuation alone to limit repetition because, by definition, you're repeating something, and that something needs to be eliminated to avoid it from happening.
     
  12. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    Ok no one has said it yet so I am just going to say it. To use simple sentences because you are afraid of punctuation is juvenile. It's like saying that I will use small words because I do not know what the big words mean or I do not know how to spell them.

    If it is a childrens book then that is another think but do not think some one in the 20 plus market will read it.

    Sorry if I was hard but I just can't sit by and watch some one dumb down their work because they are afraid.

    P.S.

    If you are new to writing and need practice putting sentences together, then by all means do it simple. I have seen the other side of this coin, where some one had tied 4 or more sentences together, with conjunctions and semicolons, making the worlds biggest sentence. We do not want that either. Something in the middle is best.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is exactly right, and I believe it will make for poor writing. Dumbing all of one's sentences down is a bad idea.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is, however, a difference between dumbing down a sentence and distilling it down to crystalline essentials.

    Be concise, and be clear. Not out of fear of punctuation. Rather, for an abhorrence waste.
     
  15. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Repetition in the structure of sentences is a very powerful literary and rhetorical device. So much so that it's hard to imagine anybody with an ear for language letting it pass accidentally.
    "Pickering: this chap has a certain natural gift of rhetoric. Observe the rhythm of his native woodnotes wild. "I'm willing to tell you: I'm wanting to tell you: I'm waiting to tell you." Sentimental rhetoric! That's the Welsh strain in him. It also accounts for his mendacity and dishonesty."​
     

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