Take a deep breath (or, commas)

A round of applause for my friend, Lynda Kaye Frazier, who has a very interesting story to tell today. It’s all about commas and the wish to die when you’re confronted with them. But I know for a fact, that Lynda figured out how to use them. Her single title novel Rescued from the Dark (romantic suspense) will be released shortly after Valentine’s day next year, but you can read her short story Saving Angel in the anthology Wild at Heart.

Okay, I’ve said enough. Your turn now, Lynda.

Thanks, Piper. So…

How I fought the comma and won.

But before she’s going to start, (comma here or not?) let me tell you a little about her. She’s a witty lady who doesn’t only love to write romantic suspense, but who also loves to get her hands on people. She a respiratory therapist and an Ultrasound technician. Welcome to my site, Lynda.
Thanks, Piper. I’m happy you thought of me when you started your blog series. Here’s my addition to you pseudo NaNoWriMo-thing. 🙂

How do I love thee comma, let me count the ways.

Don’t worry it will be a short list. When I started to write I thought I knew everything I needed to put together a great story. Boy was I wrong. The Comma defeated me. I either had too many, didn’t have enough or put them in the wrong place. I was so aggravated, but soon took control. It looked so cute and very useful but it had an evil side.

It’s been over 30 years since I took an English class and I work in the medical field, so no commas needed. I dictate, someone else types it out. I knew I needed help but it had to be simple, I am old. So I went back to the beginning. What is a comma?

A punctuation mark ( , ) used to indicate a separation of ideas or of elements within the structure of a sentence.

Ok, that makes sense, right? Well it did until I started reading all the rules, and there are a lot of rules. So I needed it simplified.  Here are the basic uses of a comma.

1.  Use a comma to separate the elements in a series.

2.  Use acomma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent causes.

3.  Use a comma to set off introductory elements.

4.  Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.

5.  Use a comma to set off quoted elements

6.  Use a comma to avoid confusion.

Then there are basic rules for using a comma.

1. Between Items in a Series. When you are listing three or more items in a sentence, simply place a comma between each member of this list.

2. Between two sentences

3. To attach words to the front or back of your sentence.

Okay, now my head was spinning. How was I going to get this straight?

I needed to master the comma. Then I found commas made easy. Simple facts that were written in English.

Memorize these!

Rule 1: Use a comma to separate two main clauses linked with a conjunction (for, and, or, so, but, nor, yet).

We came to class, but everyone had gone home.

Rule 2: Use between introductory element and subject.

Since no one was there, we decided to go over to the Sub for coffee.

Rule 3: Use a comma to separate unnecessary information from rest of the sentence.

Cheryl, my roommate, got a latte because it is her favorite drink.

Rule 4: Use a comma to separate items in a series.

Cheryl bought a chocolate donut, a cinnamon bun, three donut holes, and two twists.

Rule 5: Use to separate a list of adjectives.

the soft, white, fluffy inside of the chocolate-glazed, sprinkle-covered donut delighted me.

Now those are rules I can understand, and use.  I now have a love hate relationship with the comma. It loves to hate me but I’m starting to win him over, and so can you.

6 thoughts on “Take a deep breath (or, commas)

  1. Lynda, what a great blog talking about my own personal enemy. I think I understand him better, now 🙂

  2. Great post on comma splices. My personal pet peeve is semi-colon. I see them in many wips from my crit partners. It wouldn’t be that bad if the text wasn’t sprinkled with them. I point them out, saying editors don’t like them in fiction, better start a new sentence. Two independent clauses cannot be connected with comma, I know Word suggests to use semi-colon but they are not accepted in commercial fiction. But they keep doing what they’re doing.

  3. Yeah, you’re right with that, Zrinka. But I think there was a time where semi-colons were quite popular. When I started reading English books, I grabbed everything from L.J.Smith, and she used that little thing over and over. I think the rules for fiction just have changed over the years…

  4. Hey Piper. Thank you for having me today. I meant to stop in earlier but have been without internet. Won’t be back up until Monday. Using my neighbors hot spot right now. Thanks again. I love sharing a little information with other writers. Hopefully it will make their relationship with the comma a better one than I had at the beginning.

  5. Nice having you here. I know your post made quite a big round on facebook. Some people asked me if they could share… LOL Seems like you and I aren’t the only ones having a comma-phobia. 😉

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