Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writerly Wednesday: The Comma

I'm the last person in the world to preach about proper sentences. The main character in my book HEARTLESS is snarky, abrupt, sometimes rude - which means many of the sentences throughout the novel are abrupt, choppy, even incomplete. *gasp*

Contrary to what my stepdaughter believes, I was not an A-student in Language Arts and English. Sure, I loved to read and write, but the essay isn't my BFF, and I never quite figured out when to use a colon or a semi-colon. Heck, half the time I can't even remember which is which.

Instead, I tended to overuse the comma.

Until I attended a writer's class with NYT Bestselling thriller author Steve Berry who gave me this great comma advice: Insert a comma only where your eye needs a break.

I'm sure English teachers all around the world are sending me dirty looks right now (my Grade 6 teacher, Mrs. Kratky, included) but hear me out. You want to make the reading experience as smooth as possible, right? You want tight writing, fast pacing, sentence variation. Don't you?

Commas can bung that all up.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't follow some of those basic comma rules, like using them to separate items, etc. But it's a good exercise to go through your manuscript and look at your comma usage. Some of them may be misplaced - or *gasp* not even required at all.

Have a great Wednesday!

- Dawn

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