Who Won! AND Facebook: More Than a Procrastination Station
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when a question comes up and the answer proves elusive? When even Google and Bing are incapable of putting you out of your misery? Maybe it’s just me and my nit-picky ways, but if I’m doing something wrong I want to know so I can fix it. What makes me especially nuts is when the answer to the question should be easy to find but proves otherwise.
Here’s the scenario: One of my critique partners was told by several professional writing sources she deems reliable that in writing dialogue, one should eschew use of question marks in favor of a comma at the end of sentences. Here are examples:
1. She was told this is incorrect: “Should I use a question mark?” she said, her confusion palpable.
2. She was told this was correct: “Should I use a question mark,” she asked, her confusion palpable.
Which is it? I’ve always used the question mark, as in the first example, but as a writer who flirts with OCD where grammar is concerned, and who is no longer a spring chicken, I worried that maybe when it comes to writing dialogue my method was old school. So of course, I had to search for a definitive answer to the question mark question.
I’m always stunned when I can’t find an answer through Google or Bing. I’m spoiled. I want to know the correct answer and I want to know it now. With so many answers (many incorrect, sad to say) at our fingertips, is it any wonder that surprise and crankiness result when answers evade us?
On the up side, the beast that is social media does, it turns out, have a purpose beyond posting photos of cute baby animals and political opinions. It is not merely a place to dump giggles and grins (I love the baby animal photos) or shout about political leanings (these I ignore with spectacular abandon).
Before Monday, I would have said I have little use for Facebook as anything other than a time suck, albeit an amusing one. I love reading the snippets posted by friends and family who live far away and to whom I would not otherwise be connected in such an immediate way. But if we’re all honest—and I speak the naked truth, after all—at its core, Facebook is that place we visit when we have something else we should be doing but are too unmotivated to do it. Facebook is The Procrastination Station.
But not on Monday. On Monday, when I needed an answer to the burning question mark question, Facebook was a link to my tribe, a Facebook group comprised solely of writers and editors, people who don’t think I’m nuts for needing—yes, needing!—to know for sure, beyond a doubt, about that confounding question mark.
In case you’re dying to know, the overwhelming consensus was that #1 is correct. If the sentence is a question, use the question mark. My local critique group arrived at the same conclusion. Easy-peasy.
(Well, unless the sentence is an indirect question, in which case the question mark is, indeed, ditched for a comma. Just sayin’.)
So Facebook proved itself useful and I now have a valid reason to visit beyond my penchant to procrastinate. And keep the cute baby animal photos coming. They don’t answer questions about punctuation, but they’re sure good for the soul.
See you next week for cute dog photos and the naked truth about . . . Howl-O-Weenie 2013! (To see what you’re in for, visit HERE for pics of previous years’ festival howlers.)
Have a great week!