Semicolons – Semicolons are unexpected. They force us to do more work. I personally like them and use them. But there’s a lot to be said for the tighter control offered by periods and comma-and/comma-but conjunctions. These tend to disappear, foregrounding your story.

Semicolons and other rare beasts tend to highlight themselves—or, more accurately, to highlight your use of them, your decision to force the reader to do a little more work. I have struggled with this issue for a long time, and I tend to now agree with my critics (my friends and teachers): Use semicolons sparingly. Kill your beautiful but conspicuous punctuation in the name of the larger story.

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