Is the use of a semicolon now outdated?  I notice when using Microsoft Word, that often it will indicate that a semicolon should be used instead of a comma.  However, looking through a few  of the current books it seems that its use is limited.  So, shorter sentences, or just ignore the prompt and throw in a comma.  What does everyone else think?

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Couldn't have said it better myself, Timothy.
Oh, I'll bet you could have.
Well thanks guys, each little chunk of info stored away for processing and dissemination. A band of brothers/sisters working together for the emendatory of writing. As always, I am humbled by the generosity of authors on CrimeSpace...
I don't think it's outdated; it's more a matter of people not knowing how to use it, and steering clear. I like semi-colons, myself. I'm also a big fan of the dash, in all its various forms. Another possibility: if you're trying to write "muscular prose," or the 6th-grade prose of a Lee Child, you'd probably tend to avoid any sentence more complex than the simple declarative, so if you looked at the screen and found it littered with semicolons you'd probably have some cleaning up to do.
Hey Jon, 'muscular prose'? I think you may have to translate that for me. Hold on a tick !! I did a Google search that turned up the following -

'A phrase popularized by English teachers and professors since Hemingway helmed the paradigm shift from flowery to brusque, it directs the target to shun ambiguity and embrace clarity, thereby communicating the message more effectively.'

The article then went on to describe Hemingway's four rules of writing. Thank you, much food for thought.
Hemingway was a journalist.
Don't misunderstand. Hemingway is indeed appreciated by academics. He has revolutionized style in the 20th century. Besides, his narrative method of reporting factually the way a camera would record is also a major contribution to the literary canon.
My point was that, being a journalist, his style is particularly appropriate to crime novels.

However, leaving all that aside, it would be a mistake to have everyone write like Hemingway.
Oh you guys!! This is all so much fun, can’t wait to see what Jon makes of it all. Dan, we have a similar place to the Keys at Australia’s most easterly point – Cape Byron. Watch the sun go down, get smashed etc. Maybe we writers here in Aus can do a ‘simulblast’, with you guys over there. Anyhow, thank you each and every one, for my continuing education, all in the name of the humble semi-colon. (See I can even spell it correctly now!!)

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