I’m always looking for new ways to describe elements of good writing, so I’m constantly gathering “intelligence,” searching the web, blogs, and books. I use the tips I find to enhance my writing, but I also want to pass them along to others when I think they are exceptionally good.
A short time ago, I came across an article which compared punctuation to traffic signals. I perked up because my classes always groan when I discuss these little marks that bring so much meaning to writing. Commas, periods, and quotes. . . oh my! It’s all Greek to them and I know that because I see incorrect punctuation all of the time.
If only I had this analogy of traffic signals at hand a few months ago! It is so clever! I apologize I don’t remember the blogger who “thunk” it up,” but I publicly proclaim. “You are a frickin’ GENIUS!”
Think about this. A period is STOP sign. An exclamation mark means REALLY STOP with enthusiasm! A semi-colon is a YIELD sign, connecting two complete thoughts with a rolling stop. Commas signal you to take a breath, ahhh. A question mark, signals uncertainty? Then there’s the asterisk*, which means read the fine print. Quotes say, “I am speaking.” All of these literary traffic signals keep our readers reading at the speed and direction we want them to go. Isn’t that just great? Get on your keyboard and drive!
I guarantee you I will use this analogy with my next writing class. Perhaps the link between driving and punctuation will resonate with them.
Say, do you think the DMV might consider using punctuation on traffic signs? “Don’t be silly, Barb, that makes too much sense!”