Wednesday, August 05, 2009

One of my weaknesses as a psuedo wannabe writer...

I know the phrase, "when in doubt, leave it out," but I tend to have a hard time with commas. If there's just the slightest pause of hesitation somewhere in a sentence, I feel like that comma probably shouldn't be left out.

I feel good about my choices until I read published books with similar sentences and no commas in sight for miles. Well, it's a good thing no one's paying me for this. I don't know what I'm doing but I seem to get a kick out of doing it anyway.



Ron said...

When I was in college, we had a professor that was notorious amongst the English students for his love of commas. I use as few commas as I can. Meanwhile, Dr. D would add in a ton of commas to everything I wrote, because as he put it, "If you were reading it out loud, you should put in a comma everywhere you stop for breath. Since you're from the South, you talk a lot faster than I do."

Basically, aside from a few hard and fast rules, commas are jazz for word nerds.

holly wynne said...

See, when I taught college, I got SO MAD the day my first comp class told me--seemingly unanimously--that they'd been taught to put a comma in at every verbal pause. It's apples and oranges--you don't write the way you talk.

As a pseudo wannabe writer, my approach is similar to yours, but from the other side--I only use commas where I'm ABSOLUTELY sure they need to be. And I, too, got a sort of intuitive grammar from reading so much--I actually had very few formal grammar classes in undergrad or grad.

Anonymous said...

Eh, I tend to use a comma when I feel a pause would be warrented (or is it "warranted"??) if reading aloud. But then again, I am the polar opposite of a grammar snob. I personally, LOVE to write the way I talk (sticks tongue out at Holly :P)! So I say, do what you want! Conforming to too many rules makes our writing less unique and less "ours", in my opinion.

Gnightgirl said...

I have to go back and remove comma's also. And think hard about apostrophes. And lowercase my caps when I want to yell, and remove so many italics. I have no idea what I'm doing; my first drafts are a sight. And I've worked in publishing since I was 19.

Anonymous said...

i'm like you with not only commas,
but also with semi-colons, paren-theses, and all that jazz as you
can tell from my emails to you. i
kinda figure why not, know what i
mean? what Ron said is sorta true.
we've got a cousin from MS who it
takes at least a minute to say one
word (Amanda, Sammy's wife). even
though it takes me a while to talk,
whenever she talks, i feel like
saying "andale" to her (did i even
spell that correctly?)
think you get a lot of grammar and
linguistics from me. love - mom

susan said...

Hi, my name is Susan and I am a comma whore. Now that I've read Ron's comment though ("jazz for word nerds") I feel much better about myself.

The Daily Rant said...

I'm the same way with commas, but I have a REAL problem with semi-colons; I like to use them in everything! :)

Anonymous said...

Jesus, dude...If you have a problem with comas, then by all means see a doctor.

---Your loving and caring father

Anonymous said...

Plus - one of my teacher friends had half his small intestine removed...Now there's a man that knows about semi-colons...

Mike, if you're attracting people that think of themselves as "comma whores", then I think, even at age 62, that clearly it's high time for me to join the blogosphere. What advice can you give your dad, son..?