a little hyphen love

Just as the NYT style guide is slaying hyphens, Oxford Dictionaries offers a guide to when you ought to use ’em. (My favorite semi-obscure* use is the suspended hyphen, as in: “Renters may choose from a selection of two- and three-bedroom floor plans.”)


*Yes, I used a hyphen there.



Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive elements: what’s wrong with this picture?

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 7.47.10 PM

Actually a kind of interesting article about Einstein’s corpus callosum (and did you know he died of a ruptured aneurysm?). But our business here is the comma. The ones around “Dean Falk” don’t belong. “Dean Falk” is restrictive/essential information here. There are (one presumes) plenty of evolutionary anthropologists (which also, btw, I wouldn’t cap, but maybe that’s The Las Vegas Guardian Express house style), and, therefore, “Dean Falk” is not parenthetical information. It is essential information to clarify which evolutionary anthropologist The Las Vegas Guardian Express is referring to.

Just a comma convention. No crimes have been committed here.

for want of a comma

That’s one hard-working goatee:

“It was Jim Lewis, a retired Navy officer with unkempt gray hair and a goatee who worked as Lacey’s assistant.”*

From the NYT


* Comma convention: sentence interruptors. Place a comma before and after parenthetical/nonessential/sentence-interrupting material. This seems an appropriate moment to mention that last Tuesday was National Punctuation Day. More on that presently.

Good advice for any writing, not just novels:

On the subject of escaping routine, think about what your novel’s going to give us that we couldn’t get anywhere else and make sure this is flagged up front. If it’s about a one-legged detective, let’s see him. If it’s about corruption in Guatemala, give us something corrupt and Guatemalan on the first page. It’s no time to be coy or subtle. At no point should a reader feel like they’re waiting for something – wondering, yes, but not waiting.

Oliver Harris in The Telegraph