Amendments to My 4 Fundamental Laws of Punctuation

Some special cases and extensions.

1st and 3rd Laws Amended: Sentence Terminators

Sentences are terminated by one of three punctuation marks: period (.), question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!).

Notable exceptions include the use of the colon (:) to terminate a paragraph before a list as in this example:

The first item.
The second item.

Try to avoid needless spaces after the last sentence in a paragraph

Note: The items in a bulleted list and titles are not terminated using punctuation.

When I Use Exclamation Marks

To express extreme emotion!

I typically relegate exclamation marks to dialog:

“Don’t you dare!” she exclaimed.

2nd Law Expanded Upon: Use Commas to Insert Pauses into Sentences

In this subchapter, I want to demonstrate four specific instances in which to use commas to insert pauses into sentences. I want you to read these sentences out loud so you can hear the pauses being inserted.

Sentence Lead Ins:

First, there was the weather. To be fair, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was
pretty good.

These are all little pre-sentence qualifiers that give you a hint as to what the sentence is going to say.

Lists:

He won the first, second and final race of the day!

Strunk and White and the Oxford comma versus the newer Chicago style.

Parenthetical expressions:

Sir Anthony, a notorious womanizer, was the last to arrive at the party.

Parenthetical expressions sound to me as though they’re being whispered in the middle of a sentence. You could use parenthesis to enclose these though I feel parenthesis look out of place in fiction writing.

Dialog:

 “You must be mistaken,” Audrey exclaimed.

When you add who’s speaking, you terminate the quoted statement with a comma instead of a period.