In one of my favorite movies ever, Amadeus, a king tells Mozart that his latest opera contained “too many notes.” “Just cut a few,” the monarch said. Of course that did not go over well with the genius composer. As writers, we often cut a few words, or even a lot of words, to the benefit of the work. But what about punctuation?
I came across a funny story, well-covered in The Guardian, about another poor decision by Amazon. The everything giant pulled an author’s recently-self-published werewolf novel from its catalog because the book contained too many hyphens. A reader complaint alerted Amazon to the allegedly over-hypenated tome. Amazon then determined that the quantity of hyphens affected the book’s readability. Read the article for the full story. PS, this paragraph contains four hyphens—an average of one per line—and two em dashes. Can you read this?