November 28, 2011


What difference does proper punctuation make? If you want your work published more often, then it does matter. This is no guarantee of publication but using correct punctuation is a big step in the right direction.

I've been taking a course called Punctuation Review from Creative Writing Institute since the end of September. For the first time in my life, I'm grasping rules which remained impenetrable throughout my junior high and high school years.

Additionally, I'm now beginning to understand all those English terms that my Language Arts teacher fired at me forty-plus years ago. Why? My adult perspective, my desire to master these writing tools, the fact that I'm able to learn at my own speed - these factors are what assist me in understanding the details of writing well.

I cringe whenever I re-read articles that I submitted in the past, even as recently as last spring. This is because I used to base my understanding of punctuation rules on conjecture and half-remembered lessons. No wonder most of my articles were rejected.

Editors may seem like cruel ogres when they reject our labours of love but these folks usually have good reasons for their decisions. Because of the steady avalanche of submissions, they need a literary smelting method to divide the gold from the slag. Proper punctuation, especially if it conforms to the publication's style manual, shows that the writer is serious about easing the editor's workload. This also shows that considerable effort went into the piece.

Though this course is tough enough to make my brain whimper, I persist in beating these punctuation and sentence structure concepts through my skull. The glamour of story or poetry writing is missing from this course but I know it will improve whatever work I tackle in the future.

In addition to being a member of InScribe, I've self-published When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). I hope to have How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity in print some time in 2012.

Read more about them here. You're also welcome to contact me directly for more information.


  1. Good for you, Bruce. Most of us need refreshers in punctuation and do not even realize it!

  2. I still struggle with commas, and I'm sure a course on punctuation would be very beneficial.Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Punctuation can be quite a bummer!

  4. I teach High School English and it seems no matter how often one goes over the 'rules' some people just don't get it. I guess the difference is, if it MATTERS you'll take note. (Like you are doing!)

  5. Great article, Bruce! In my writing classes this semester, I've seen a lot of stories - and everything from near-perfect punctuation to absolutely horrendous how did this writer get to this class it's so bad punctuation. Punctuation matters, as you say. It makes reading easy - even effortless - for the reader. And if our job as writers is to communicate with the reader - then we'd better be doing our job. Good for you for taking a class and brushing up on your skills. :)


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