I have this thing about colons. I don't use them. No, not that colon. I'm talking about the ones that stop sentences, rhythm, pacing, flow dead in their tracks. I prefer a nice run-on sentence to one with a ":" in the middle of it. If commas are speed bumps, colons are moats. And yes, I read (and even enjoyed) "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves."
I'm on this topic for a couple of reasons. One, I just had my first colonoscopy this week. I'm not kidding. Now I am talking about THAT colon. A college friend of mine died of colon cancer at age 47, so my wife has been hounding me to get one. The good news is that I'm good for another five years. This is key, because I don't think I could drink another glass of that prep solution any sooner than that.
But I digress. Back to the other colon.
I've been through many copy edits, but I just finished one (my fourth in the last year) on a script called "When Darkness Falls," which will be out in January 07. The copyeditor did a fabulous job overall--much better than most. In case you aren't aware, copyediting is one of those services that has been "oursourced" -- not exactly to India, a la "The World is Flat," but far enough to ensure that the quality will vary tremendously, depending on the freelance copyeditor de jour that the publisher hooks you up with. That's why my acknowledgments contain numerous thank yous to readers who have spotted errors in my books over the years and volunteered to be copyeditors. God bless these folks.
But again I digress. This latest copyedit was unusual because not once, but twice, the copyeditor decided to end a paragraph with a colon. Mind you, I have probably used two or three colons in 11 novels. In dailogue, they make the speaker seem too self important. In narrative, they simply cut the pace--which is sort of important in a thriller, don't you think? Anyway, imagine my surprise when I come to the end of a paragraph and find a colon. This was not a typo. The copyeditor insists that it is grammatically correct.
There was a time (before I had three young children home for summer) that I would have rushed off to some reference source and actually checked to see if a paragraph could end with a colon. I didn't. I simply struck it and inserted a good ol' reliable period. Maybe it's just me, but can you think of any circumstance in which a paragraph should end with a colon: