HYPHEN-MANIA | Or, How I Got B-Slapped* by My Copyeditor

Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Writing | 7 comments

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(source: grammarpartyblog.com)

(*where “b-slapped” is a hyphen-manic word such that “b” stands in for the witch-rhyming word.)

After last week’s post, I promised I’d write something lighthearted this week. What could be better than hyphens? Those slivers of punctuationary (yes, I just made up an adjective) yumminess that allow for all manner of over-the-top compound modifiers, not to mention nouns you’d never find in the dictionary–(that’s supposed to be an em-dash, NOT, no-way-ever, a hyphen) like hyphen-mania, which as you might have guessed, is not to be mistaken for hyphen-phobia.

I used to think that I was a semi-colon* person, and secondarily, an em-dash (should that hyphen be there? I like the looks of it, so yes) person. I knew I had an issue with semi-colons when a friend informed me that using semi-colons within dialogue quotes was idiotic. “We don’t talk in semi-colon; just use a period,” he said.

Frankly, I thought what he’d said was a wonderfully semi-colon-ish (aaah, there are my pretty hyphens) set of statements. Talk about being in denial. After a sweat-soaked internal struggle, I gripped my mouse and fixed the dialogue before sending the manuscript to the copyeditor. I use em-dashes semi-correctly, so I thought I was safe.

But no! I have a hidden addiction. An insidious-sneaky-little-devil of an affliction. You inject a hyphen once, and before you know, you’re injecting them anywhere at anytime, leaving a swath of overwrought-and-trying-too-hard phrases behind you.

I had to accept my problem, face it head-on (kind-of), and accept my copyeditor’s sponsorship. Not that I don’t relapse, of course, but with her around, I hope to present many a hyphen-happy novel to the world…(Ellipses are good. I like ellipses, too, but I tend to avoid them in my fiction.)

To that end, Ms. Copyedit-trix, she b-slapped me from page 1 to page 369. Here are a few of the many ways I succumbed to my addiction: (Hi, Colon, didn’t want to ignore you!)

Adjectives

hen-pecked –> should be –> henpecked
mid-air —-> midair
wolf-like —-> wolflike
under-lit —-> underlit
old-world —-> Old World

Nouns

bog-hole —-> bog hole
web-porn —-> web porn
sofa-bed —-> sofa bed
line-up —-> lineup
screw-up —-> screwup
half-mile —-> half mile

yet: hardass —-> hard-ass (my kind of word, hugs to you, Hyphen!)

Verbs

re-shingle —-> reshingle
over-think —-> overthink

Even Interjections!

ah-ha —-> aha

Adverbs?

Thankfully, no. Throw me out of the writing tribe if I ever use a hyphen after an -ly adverb. Even I know better than to write that kind of badlywritten badly written prose.

What about you, any punctuation addictions you’re ready to confess?

*Mmm-hmm, don’t you be yanking out my hyphen!

7 Comments

  1. I laughed the whole way through-then re-read it again! I’m addicted to ‘member (you fill in the re) words and those dreaded exclamation points!

    • Oh, so your characters re-monstrate and re-call and re-late in to-loud voices!

      • Whoops, too-loud, or perhaps loudly-raised voices? 🙂

  2. Best column ever! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! I think I shall start marketing myself as Ms. Copyedit-trix. But all those hyphens in semicolon? Oy.

    • Thanks, my all powerful Copyedit-trix! What, you mean, semi-colon doesn’t have a hyphen in it? 🙂

  3. I’m an ellipsiophile myself . . . I love the mystery of the unfinished thought, or the dangling action or . . . ?

  4. …or a vagueness that might be due to deep thought or, more likely for me, the inability…to finish a thought…?

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