Writing Glitch #154

Today’s glitch:


The way it is used in the second sentence, though requires commas before and after it.

(Though can be confusing; sometimes it requires a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence, and sometimes it doesn’t. Even though she’d studied, she wasn’t sure she’d get a good score on the test. She only needed a passing grade, though, so she tried not to worry too much.)

Technology has been developed [by zombies? 🙂 ] to allow people to manipulate their own DNA in realtime, within approved legal limits. For truly dedicated hackers, though, there exist underground markets in illegal mods where anything goes, and it usually does.

You don’t need both approved and legal in the first sentence. I’d recommend deleting the former, because obviously if it’s legal, it has been approved by someone.

(The subgenre of biopunk SF contains many potentially fascinating story ideas, and yet some authors write it just like trite pseudo-cyberpunk, but squishier. *sigh*)


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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4 Responses to Writing Glitch #154

  1. Sheron says:

    why is there a comma before “within”? Isn’t that a preposition?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right that “within legal limits” is a preposition, but it doesn’t modify “in realtime,” so there’s a comma before it. Think of it as working the way commas work to separate adjectives that function independently of each other: you don’t use a comma in “pale blue car” because “pale” modifies “blue,” but you do use a comma in “fast, blue car” because “fast” modifies “car” independently of “blue.” (This is my explanation, not a paraphrase from CMS.)


  2. Now there’s a story waiting to be written …” Technology has been developed by zombies …”

    Liked by 1 person

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