Saturday, January 19, 2013

I don't have a ruler but ... Pt II

789476Continuing from here but this post will be shorter, promise.

Recently I paid attention to how I use commas because it seems to me that many people overuse them. And I noticed that in early drafts of chapters and blog posts, I do it too!

And I realized that typing while I think is the culprit. I go along banging words out as they occur to me and when my thought process gets stuck, I stop typing--but first, I add a comma. It's like I have to capture every nuance of thought, even the pauses. For a first draft, that's absolutely fine. Now we're back to proofreading: okay, you've gotten a bunch of ideas down kind of as they formed. Great, you've got coherent thoughts and you want to tell people! Go for it.

Just proofread before you press “publish” or “send”, okay? It doesn't take long and it's not as annoying as flossing. Here's a tip from a copy editor I briefly worked with: Start with the last sentence, read that out loud, then move on to the second-last sentence, and keep going backwards. It's best to have another person follow along on their own copy because they catch things you might miss, but even doing it alone helps.

You can even do it between paragraphs. Whenever you temporarily run out of ideas, read over what you have so far. Once you get in the habit of proofreading it becomes automatic. Your first drafts and off-the-cuff posts will have fewer mistakes. More people will smile at you.

Too many commas can slow readers down. That’s exactly what you don’t want in scenes with fast-paced action or somebody’s hyped-up, tumbling thoughts. Even in blog posts, too many commas make me feel like I’m riding a cantering horse: bouncing up and down.

Commas. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, some are necessary and some are like those spiked strips cops throw across the roadway to catch speeding crooks. I don’t normally pontificate like this but some things just get in my craw and I have to snap about it.

Rant over, really. Feel free to disagree with me, it’s fine. Won’t be the last time, no doubt :D
image courtesy of DarkSide/stock.xchng

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