Monday, March 12, 2018

A Note on Subtlety


For many years I’ve been vexed by the utter lack of a subtle punctuation mark. The ellipses is, perhaps, the closest thing to subtlety we have, but that doesn't express exactly what I mean by the word “subtle.” What I want more than anything is something that can express a whisper without having to say “he whispered.” Something much akin to the exclamation mark in its exactness of expression. If I use this (!) at the end of a bit of dialogue you are in no way confused as to the current disposition of the speaker. While many might throw in a “he exclaimed,” or “she shouted,” or "they yelled,” it’s wholly unnecessary to do so.

All of the above brings me to the jist of this particular raving: in CRUNCH, the web fiction I hope you will follow and indulge in regularly, you will see this (^) used as a punctuation mark. This is entirely experimental and unique to this work. It’s my dearest wish that this not remain unique. That it disseminates in such a way that grammarians argue its significance. That it finds its way into common use. I hope it’s argued about. I hope it’s hated and loved. Most of all, I hope it’s talked about such that this (^), or some other symbol, gains enough traction to be accepted as the punctuation mark of subtlety for years to come, for I would much rather write (“Hello?”), (“Hello.”), (“Hello!”), and (“Hello^”) than (“Hello?”), (“Hello.”), (“Hello!”), and (“Hello, he whispered.). That’s not to say edification isn’t necessary in many cases, or that such descriptions don’t add their own flavor to the text. I have no doubt such language will be used while writing this, but I still want the option for my authorial intent to be clear with a punctuation mark and nothing else.

If you're a follower of CRUNCH the first time you see this (^) it will be followed by a “whispered” soon after. This is meant as a priming mechanism, so that when you come across it in the future you might remember what it means. This isn't the only experiment my partner and I will be trying out during the course of our story, but other than the adventure of creating it in the first place it is one of the things I hope finds purchase in the world.