Just the Punctuation

Has anyone ever accused you of relying on ellipses or dashes too much? Have you ever wondered if you use too many exclamation points? We now have a way to visualize the answers to exactly those questions.

Clive Thompson made a tool that strips all the letters from a passage of writing and shows you only the punctuation. Why? Because you can learn a lot about style that way. In explaining the application, Thompson himself realized that he used a lot of parentheticals, long ones with punctuation inside them, which indicates he digresses from the subject more than he would like. In another example, look at the image above. On the left is the punctuation in Adam J. Calhoun's analysis of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. On the right is Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. It only rakes a glance to see how the writing styles differ, just by punctuation.

You'll find the tool called just the punctuation here. I put in some of my own writing, and found that I don't use nearly as much punctuation as I expected to see. This is all the punctuation from an entire Mental Floss feature article from years ago.

' . ' , , , , . ' ? , , . , , , . , - , . , . , ! , , . ' , ' . , , , . , ' , . . ( ) , . , . . . . . , ' . , . , . , , . . , . . . . , ' . . , . . , , . , . ; ' . . ' - , . . , . , ' ' , . . ( ) , .


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