Refresher Course: 17 Rules to Avoid Comma Confusion – by Dana Isaacson…

on Career Authors:

Other teachers at my junior high school used new English textbooks, but in Mr. B.’s classroom the grammar books were over twenty years old and well-worn. Our seventh-grade English teacher, an older gent, had a well-deserved reputation for volatility. Any student who could not recite the helping verbs in under four seconds had to be prepared for sarcastic derision. Anyway, Mr. B. taught me grammar and punctuation.

Fix it later

He might have been tough, but you can expect New York publishers to be tougher. They won’t yell at you. Worse, they’ll ignore you.

After finishing a novel’s first draft, one writer recently said, “I’ll let the publishers unkink all the kinks.” Indeed, a book publisher will hammer—or should I be gentler and say massage?—your manuscript into impeccable shape, but a manuscript must pass through many hands before it reaches a copy editor’s desk. It seems unwise for prospective book authors to count on others to ignore their mistakes.

Fix it now

Don’t expect to get e.e. cummings’ editor. Agents, editors or readers cannot be reliably counted upon to perceive the beauty beyond the haze. Casual punctuation is perceived as sloppy and unprofessional, and there’s no time like the present to get your book in shape.

Dangerous commas

This sentence-breaking punctuation is too often misused and abused. While there are certainly more comma rules than what follows, these 17 rules focus on common danger zones for comma confusion.

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