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The Revised and Expanded Punctuation for Writers: A Thorough Primer for Writers of Fiction and Essays

(Harvey Stanbrough- Central Avenue Press, 2003)

Reviewed by Beth Morrow

Copyright 2005 - All Rights Reserved


Since I've been teaching high school English for ten years and writing for much longer, I initially scoffed at the notion of reviewing a punctuation book for writers. Punctuation? Wouldn't that be like Einstein reading a text covering the Periodic Table? Or Bill Gates spending time with a Microsoft manual?

Despite my misgivings (and obviously overblown ego) Stanbrough's dialogue book (see above) successfully convinced me there was more than met the eye when it came to dialogue. I didn't think there was much to learn but I'd been wrong. Could I be as mistaken about punctuation?

Punctuation for Writers begins with a simple, ten-question quiz in order to help discover your greatest area of need when it comes to adding emphasis to your written work through the use of periods, dashes and parenthesis. It's possible that after the quiz (answers included), you might choose to focus in on the area you most need help with. At just 71 pages, though, you'll find the book an easy and interesting read.

Stanbrough delineates between long-pause, medium-pause, short-pause and spelling punctuation in the beginning of the book to present most of the major punctuation marks and through examples, shows precisely how to pace the reader, reveal important information and join thoughts in creative prose. The book wraps up with a painless primer on the parts of speech and how they too impact the reader and your story as a whole.

While The Revised and Expanded Punctuation for Writers was written before Writing Realistic Dialogue, they both complement each other to form a complete package guaranteed to help writers--regardless of level and ability--think about not only how they tell their story but how they present the story as well. Since Punctuation for Writers certainly helped me—an old English teacher—see commas, question marks and hyphens in a whole new way, imagine what it can do for your writing…

Read Beth's review of the companion book:



About the author: Beth Morrow is a freelance writer who is learning to create in the middle of things. In addition to both national and regional writing credits, she authors a daily blog of writing resources at www.writers-loft.blogspot.com, compiles a monthly column on small press and independent publishers and is working on her first nonfiction book on writer's retreats. She can be contacted through her website: bethmorrow.com.


         Last updated: February 19, 2007