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Daily Archives: August 21, 2017

Em Dash-ians Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Commas …

  I wrote my first, furtive em dash as a freshman in high school. A boy I liked in English class was sneaking them into his paragraphs willy-nilly, despite our teacher’s objections. I was preparing a speech to the assembly, and it sounded stiff and boring — which was crazy, because I’m hilarious, and I knew the speech was, too. The periods made me stop. The commas let me slow down, but didn’t give me the dramatic effect I was after. And using exclamation points drove me crazy! No, I wanted long, sweeping paragraphs — interrupted by bursts of humor or pique — that packed an emotional punch. I wanted the punctuation to guide my voice as I spoke, to give my words rhythm and power and depth. The em dash made it happen. I spent the next several years writing research papers and playing by The Man’s…