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Punctuation – A Writer’s Magic Wand

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.29.04 PMPunctuation can do amazing things for your story.

In fact, punctuation tools are a writer’s friend, a writer’s magic wand.

Punctuation helps create the mood or tone of our stories. It helps us get the response we want to what we have written. It allows us to control the way a reader thinks and reacts to our work.

Punctuation is not just about rules. It’s there to help the reader know how to read what we have written. It helps them immerse themselves in the experience of our story.

Here’s how:

  1. Full stops tell the reader when to pause.
  2. Exclamation marks tell them when to pay attention!
  3. Paragraph breaks make a reader stop and think about what they have just read. This helps them absorb and recall important information.
  4. Talking marks help the reader know exactly who is speaking. So it helps them get to know people they are reading about, and understand their place in the story.
  5. Our sentence breaks help create the mood of the story. For example, short, sharp sentences create tension, but long lyrical ones can help us picture a setting.


Long sentences create atmosphere

After an hour or so, the rocky ridges and snow-covered cliffs gave way to thick forests so deep that there was no sunlight except for narrow stems of gold that filtered between the rows of tall trees. *

Short sentences create tension

Everything happened in a split second. Austin didn’t have time to react. He barely had enough time to realise that the cougar was flying towards him.

Talking marks and line breaks make it clear who’s talking

“You saved that man’s life.”
The boy stopped running. “Henry, his name’s Henry.”
“You saved Henry’s life.”
The boy shrugged. “We take care of each other.”
The man took the boy’s arm gently, as if to stop him running off again.
“I know somebody who can help you,”
The boy felt a spark of hope. He didn’t know how they would survive the Paris winter. *

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 10.35.12 PMPunctuation tips

  1. Read your work out loud and listen to where you pause. When you pause for breath, that’s where you need a comma or full stop. Or get someone else to read your story for you and listen to where they pause.
  2. Every time a different character talks or does an action, start a new line with this new speech or action.
  3. Break your work up into paragraphs. This makes it easier to read and helps the reader to stop and think about the piece of text they have just read, and pay attention to important information.can

If you want to be a writer, remember that punctuation is your magic wand, and can turn your work from something good into something great!

Happy writing 🙂


* Writing passages used in this post are excerpts from my new book, K9 Heroes, to be released by Scholastic Australia in August 2017.


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Deborah Abela Shares Her Writing Tips

deb08_1_300dpiDeb knew she wanted to be a writer when she was 7 years old.  Her first story was about a man made out of cheese.  It wasn’t very good.

She trained as a teacher, travelled overseas where she slept beside alligators, was harassed by monkeys, was almost traded for a camel and was thrown in jail at gunpoint, twice. Strangely, her first writing job was for a kids’ show on channel Ten called “Cheez TV”.

After 7 years of writing scripts about everything from llamas to bungy jumping and how to go to the toilet in outer space, Deb wrote her first novel – Max Remy Superspy Part 1: In Search of the Time and Space Machine.There are 10 books about Max and her best friend Linden who travel the world as secret agents fighting bad guys.


My ‘cranky’ novel, Grimsdon, was inspired by governments around the world not taking enough care of the planet…it focuses on a group of kids left behind in a flooded city with sea monsters, flying machines and sneaker waves.

The sequel, New City, takes the issue of a climate-changed world further by asking what happens when wild weather drives people from their homes? This time, there are ornithopters, ice tornados, rescue eagles and a brand new bad guy.

DEB’S WRITING TIPSNew City cover smaller

After reading my novel Grimsdon, kids kept writing to me asking, ‘what happens next?’ and I’d write back saying, ‘Nothing, that’s the end of the book.’ But then I asked myself, I wonder what would happen if the story went further and the kids did have another adventure?

That’s how New City and most of my stories begin, with that simple question,. ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ so here are my top 5 tips:

  • Ask yourself ‘I wonder what would happen if….’
  • Write about things that excite you and maybe even make you cranky
  • Give yourself permission to write badly…it’s all practice for getting better
  • Write every day
  • Start now!


Here are a few places New City can be found:





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