a very brief semi-rant about punctuation

It’s not that difficult a concept:  If you have a sentence that could be divided into two sentences by removing a conjunction (a compound sentence), there must be a comma before that conjunction.  This isn’t optional.  This isn’t a matter of personal taste.

It is also a good idea not to use a comma after a conjunction-type word at the beginning of a sentence.  If you’re going to start a sentence with but (usually fine in informal writing, which is what fiction is), don’t use a comma after it.  The same thing goes for and.  After all, if you use but or and in the middle of the sentence, the comma goes before it.

Inept punctuation in a novel makes the author look bad; inept punctuation in an indie-published novel makes every other indie author look bad, too, because a lot of readers still think indie equals unprofessional.  Perpetuating this misconception is not acceptable.  Learn to write with at least a minimum level of competence in the basics of punctuation, grammar, and spelling, or face the bloggish wrath of Mercenary Proofreader, who will mock you mercilessly and say harsh things about your book.



About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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6 Responses to a very brief semi-rant about punctuation

  1. Reblogged this on Amos M. Carpenter and commented:
    As writers, I think it’s our duty to lead by example as much as possible. Even if you’re not serious about ever being published and just blog for fun, consider that every time you make a common error, the chances of someone reading your error and subconsciously registering that that’s the way to do it increase, and you’ve helped the error to spread. If you write, consider yourself one of the guardians of good language. Thomas’ succinct post hits the head on the nail.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindacovella says:

    Great post. Errors will happen and slip through the cracks. But there’s no excuse for not learning your craft and/or laziness!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. njmagas says:

    Well said. I will be extra vigilant in my future blog posts. 😛


    • Blogs are different. I don’t think most readers (myself included) expect a blog post to be proofread/edited with the same thoroughness as a novel that people are supposed to pay money to read.


  4. Sheron says:

    Thank you for straightening out that comma question. I’ve had people try to take out the comma in a compound sentence in my manuscript as if they knew what they were saying. I protested, but the fact is that commas make me crazy…….er…crazier.

    I totally agree that Indies have an obligation to be as professional as a traditionally published author. It requires a lot of work, however. And diligence.

    Liked by 1 person

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