Ode to the Dash–That Playful Prince of Punctuation


Ode to the Dash
by Jacki Kellum

Oh, Dash of life—
That extra bit
Of spice within my word,

I could speak without
That Dash—

—And wonder if they HEARD!

Copyright Jacki Kellum October 21, 2015

Today’s blog prompt was no doubt meant for me. I dash the dash to death.

When I create playful compound words, I use the dash, i.e. the following excerpt from my picture book manuscript Which Witch?:

“Are you the one with jagged teeth,
Or do you jack-o-smile?

I just can’t seem to picture you.
It’s been a Hallo-while.’

I use the dash to signal to the reader to pause, i.e. the following from my picture book manuscript Lots of Socks:

“She bought and bought
And bought neat socks.
There were no more to choose.
But still she wants to shop some more.

She’ll buy shoes.”

I am an extremely dramatic person and a story teller. When I write, I want my words to sound like me–like I am actually talking. See? That is how I use the dashes. Last night, I posted an article about my ancestors, who have descended from the first Secretary of Virginia, in 1621. This morning, I went through that article and saw that I had used dashes in numerous places.

I like to juxtapose phrases to create economical snippets of thoughts–almost like creating collages or montages with words. Sometimes I use the dash to add a statement for emphasis:

“My immediate family’s story is about those people who moved just a bit west—to the middle of the country. Most of those people were Protestants, who were seeking religious freedom, too; and many of the men did become preachers—fire and brimstone Baptist preachers.”

Quite often, I question whether I am using the dash correctly and/or whether I am using it far too much. I am probably not using the dash correctly, and I no doubt use the dash too much. I cannot seem to help myself–Now, Dash away, Dash away, Dash away all.”

Everything on this page is copyrighted by Jacki Kellum October 21, 2015

All Rights Reserved
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “By the Dots.”


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