Christian Writing Writing Parenthetical Thought

Johne

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Sep 27, 2005
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Parentheses: How to Use () Correctly


I bet you already figured that out.

What Are Parenthetical Statements?​

Parenthetical statements give additional information or explanation. They are like softer em dashes.

“An em dash indicates an abrupt change in thought or action, while a parenthetical statement is a mild digression."

A parenthesis is like a close friend quietly whispering in your ear, but an em dash is more like your high school graduating class arriving drunk on your doorstep and announcing that you are hosting this year’s reunion, and it’s happening right now. Notice the difference:

Angela exhaled quietly (she didn’t want Frank to hear anything) and felt her way along the wall to the door.
Angela exhaled quietly—she didn’t want Frank to hear anything—and felt her way along the wall to the door.
In the second sentence, the fact that Angela doesn’t want Frank to hear anything has the same importance as her movement towards the door. If that’s your goal, then em dashes are what you’re looking for.

If you’re primarily focused on Angela’s progression towards the door, then use parentheses.

You can also use a parenthetical statement to give your reader information without adding emphasis to the aside:

Kevin yawned (he’d only had four hours of sleep) and stretched out on the floor at his sister’s feet.
The parentheses allow your audience to continue reading through the paragraph without stopping and acknowledging that, oh, Kevin’s lack of sleep is something that I need to pay attention to. Instead, they know that the action isn’t leaving them behind.
 
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Apr 5, 2019
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My general rule, after getting excoriated for doing that back very early in my writing journey, is to NEVER USED PARATHETICAL EXPRESSIONS IN FICTION!!!!
 

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