Damn the Commas, Full Speed Ahead!

I had intended to write my next post about sex, marriage, or even kids. Instead, I find myself unable to think about anything but the lowly comma.

I do find commas sexy. They remind me of sperm trying to wiggle around a tight corner. I hate to see commas misused and abused. Commas make reading a pleasure instead of a chore and deserve to be treated with respect.

I’ve been reading a self-published romance novel. The author (I won’t mention her name.) has written numerous books. She’s clearly a very experienced writer. but I find her use of punctuation irritating. Commas are thrown into sentences where they have no busy being. They break sentences into illogical segments or join what really should be two sentences into a difficult-to-read mishmash. Reading the book is like spotting your husband talking to a hooker. He may have a good story to tell, but you’re not in the mood to listen.

Commas and other punctuation serve two functions. We’ve all laughed at the results when a comma is mistakingly omitted, as in this Rachael Ray cover story.

rachelray01

But just as importantly, punctuation makes reading smooth and easy. It’s like a singer taking a breath in the proper place. Improper punctuation detracts from the story you’re trying to tell and makes the sophisticated reader think don’t have a firm grasp of the English language.

I don’t claim to have perfect punctuation skills. I make mistakes, and sometimes I need to check my grammar guide to make sure I’m doing it right. But I believe proper grammar and punctuation must be the foundation for any writer. I wouldn’t want to find out my surgeon doesn’t have a basic grasp of human anatomy right before I go under the knife, or that the mechanic working on my car doesn’t know how to put the wheels back on safely.

So please, if you want to be a writer, learn how to use your tools properly. Your reader will thank you.

Best Wishes,

Kelee

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