I'm just going to dive right in and pretend that it hasn't been three weeks since I last blogged. I'll also ignore the fact that I only blogged three times last month. (That's just so you know that I know how lax I've been).
So, punctuation. The fluctuation part of the title is mostly because it rhymes, but it does sort of make sense too, because I have good days and bad days with punctuation....
Let's just say that me and Punctuation are not exactly the best of friends (I'm not on great terms with Grammar either, but that's another subject for another day). I don't know why I can't get my head around it, but I've never been able to grasp all those bothersome punctuation rules. I can understand the basics, but when we get to the more complicated stuff, I'm lost.
Yes, there is complicated stuff with punctuation. Those of you who find it easy may laugh at this, but it's true. Take apostrophes (I wish somebody would take them, then shove them where the Sun don't shine). Most of the time I get them right, but I know for a fact that when it's a choice between its and it's, I probably pick the wrong one. I've read many explanations about how to decide which way is right, but I either get lost amongst the invariably long words that are used to explain the rules 'simply', or I actually 'twig' when I read it, only to forget all about it by the time I sit down to write something. It's just one of those Black Spots for me, and I don't think there will ever be a time when I don't struggle.
Those apostrophes bugger me up when it comes to names too. Well, not all names, just those that end with an 's'. I mean, is it James's or James' (for example)? And what about those tricky plural words? I type as I speak usually (well, I don't go the whole hog and type in Taff speak all of the time, only on special occasions *wink*), so if I was saying 'everyone is there', I would naturally take out the 'is' and say 'everyone's there'. But should that be 'everyones' there' or 'everyones there' or 'everyone's there'??? Heck if I know.
And those.... er, I don't even know what they're called, but those series of full stops when a sentence trails off. There has to be a name for them, but I'm on the Heck If I Know fence again. Now, I actually know where these are supposed to go, so that's not the problem. But how many are there supposed to be? Three? Four? I usually go with four, but whether that's right or not is another thing. It's (its?) actually not as bad as it used to be, because when I first started writing a few years ago, there would likely be anything between three and ten full stops whenever I used a sentence that trailed off....
Colons. Ugh. *dies* I never use them if I can help it because unless I'm listing something in the middle of text (which is extremely rare), I really don't know where they're supposed to go. I'm mostly OK with semi-colons, but colons confuse the heck out of me. Oh, and while I remember, when I type 'OK', should that be OK, O.K., or okay? There's that fence again.
One thing I have grasped, is when and when not to use a full stop during speech. Microsoft Word used to drive me nuts because it kept capitalising (capitalizing - z or s? That's another thing that bothers me, those pesky z and s quandaries. I think that might be a spelling thing and not a punctuation thing though, so I won't blather too much about that one today) the words directly after a spoken piece of text. Leanne (my fellow Burrower, who actually inspired this blog post today, by the way, because she fixed up my punctuation errors in my blog post for Burrowers, Books & Balderdash - thanks Leanne!) explained that I needed to put a comma before the closing quotation marks if I wanted to put a 'he said etc' afterwards. Well, she said it it in a far more technical way than that, using several big words that went over my head, but I got the gist of it (shocking the heck out of me), so all was good.
And as for those quotation marks, should it be one or two when typing speech? Or does it really matter? *falls off the fence*
So yeah, me and Punctuation have a strange relationship. Probably not ideal for someone who is frantically trying to polish and edit a novel for publication, but there we are.