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Young Writers Society
Grammar & Research
Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:28 pm
Many people that set out to edit their work - even the most professional ones - always miss out on a few commas and other grammatical tidbits that will always mess up the readers who tend to catch the grammar, like myself.
Now, it might not be one of the most crucial parts to editing - grammar will be no good unless there's a good plot lurking behind it - but grammar does become one of the defining points when being considered for publishing. Although an editor is there to help you with all these things, they have a lot to do with many other stories. Making the editing easier for them will make it easier for you to be published, and commas are the easiest elements to fix up yourself.
1. Misplaced Commas.
Everyone can find miss-placed comma trouble in a story. Even if it's a really good story, a misplaced comma will throw you out of the illusion the author is creating, and it's a hard thing to get back into the flow of the story. For example:
"He handed it to Hermes, who tapped it against his thigh, absently. He handed the scroll back. It was now perfectly, legible and Zeus nodded in satisfaction as he handed the scroll back to Keridwen."
Can you guess where the two misplaced commas are? Did they throw you from what was actually happening? They did? Have a read through your work and see if you've misplaced any commas.
2. Missing Commars.
Although it is easier to read through a missing comma than a misplaced one, it does jolt you out of your illusion just a little as the reader goes back and reads the sentence again to make sense of it. Try a different paragraph without the commas:
"The human Muans and Lemurians were allies but they and the Knemedons were age-old enemies. Their gods on the other hand were the exact opposite. Where the humans fought to the death their gods were not a part of the fighting and didn't even condone it. The Gods will always band together to help any band of humans. After all they were once all living on the same continent but were divided when the continent split apart."
As you can see, it is a little easier to read than a misplaced comma, but it does take a couple of goes on at least one sentence to get it right. Did you catch on any of it? Yes? Now have a read through your work for these little nuisances and correct them.
3. Excess Commars.
Even worse, and more confusing, than misplaced and missing are over-used or excess commas. For example:
"Keridwen," Epona said with a slight smile, "someone close to them, has to talk to them. They're warriors, close to death, every minute they live. I'm a Horse Goddess. Thor, and Zeus, are Weather Gods. Hermes talks to no one, he can avoid, and Freya is yet to come to exist, in the Humans' Realms. It's either you, Dagda or Morrigan, who has to talk to them, and none of us wants those two, to talk to anyone."
Did you catch those? No? Try again. The commas might make sense, but after reading through it again, you should start to realize where the excess commas are. have a look through your work to see if they exist in your text.
So, there you have it. The three most common problems with comma use. Although it seems to be something that only someone with a lot of time and nit-picking skills would notice, commas are one piece of commonly-miss-used grammar around the globe. So, before you send away that next manuscript, you might want to look at your story again and see if you can find any place where you have done one of these three things. The easiest way to tell whether you have got the grammar right is to print it off and read it aloud - to a friend, large audience or a literal brick wall.
Correcting the little nuisances might just mean the difference between a rejection and an acceptance.
Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:25 pm
Tank you for this. I'm always pounding on the comma key when I write. I know it's bad, but I can't help it.
I might suggest adding in a paragraph of answrs, with all of the misplaced commas on bold. it would make it earsier to prove your point.
Also, you spelt "Commas" wrong in your titles, 2 & 3 have 'r''s in them.
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Writing is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet
Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:11 am
Thanks for this! I have SO much trouble deciding
to place comma's. Could you possibly give me some general pointers about comma's? I need all the help I can get lol. Well like I said before thank you!
Not with things as they are, but with things as they might be and ought to be.
So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookcase on the wall.
— Roald Dahl
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