Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lost commas

If you've lost any commas I know where they are. I've discovered that I can get three into any sentence with no problems at all. I swear I spend more time removing commas than I do writing.

Do you have any writing quirks that irritate you?

22 COMMENTS:

Bevie said...

I find my characters sigh a lot. And smile before speaking.

It gets to be annoying having to rip all of that out during first read, but every time I write it returns.

fairyhedgehog said...

I think we just have to let it happen then go back and correct. If I think too much about writing properly I lose the plot. If I hadn't already.

writtenwyrdd said...

I repeat words unintentionally. I find that if I use a fairly unusual word--in particular if it has multiple meanings--I'll discover I've used it two or three times on a single page, even within a single paragraph! It's annoying, because I do not realise I do it until I edit!

fairyhedgehog said...

writtenwyrd: it's so annoying when you keep doing something like that, isn't it?

stacy said...

This is a bigger writing problem: I tend to avoid conflict in my stories.

I know. Kinda misses the point. But I have to force myself to put it in.

fairyhedgehog said...

stacy: I can see how that might be a problem.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

I'm paranoid about punctuation and I use the word that much too often. I pull them out by the handfuls before I publish.

fairyhedgehog said...

Sophie: I have an uneasy relationshipe with that. When I worked in the civil service I was encouraged to use it more often than I had previously, now I'm never quite sure if it's excessive or not.

sylvia said...

You know, American English allows for about twice as many commas as British English so you could just blame the Internet for bringing wanton grammar into your life. :)

I do exactly the same as WW does: I use the same word two or three times in a paragraph all the time. Drives me insane because it is so hard to see.

Whirlochre said...

When aliens threaten to destroy the Earth unless we find a way to fix their weird alien weird weird WEIRD hair, I'm relying on you to burst forth from cyberspace, paired commae in hand, to make with the pin-it-all-back wherewithal.

Robin S. said...

I comma the hell out of everything I write. (Except that sentence, apparently.)

Don't know why, except there may be two reasons.

1- Southerners speak with lots of pauses, so maybe each mental pause for me, means a comma. (And apparently our sentence structure is a tad f'd up as well.)

2- I swear I think that, back in the day, there were more commas used as a matter of course. I'm thinking back to the day of Henry James on our side of the pond, and a bit before his time, Dickens et al on yours...

fairyhedgehog said...

Sylvia: That's a good idea. I'll just say I'm American.

Whirl: So there is a use for them after all.

Robin: I have a feeling that #2 is part of the problem. I learnt my grammar in an earler time and now it's out of date.

Scott from Oregon said...

I have that comma problem, too.

fairyhedgehog said...

Scott: I'm glad I'm not alone!

SillyBoy said...

The biggest problem with my writing is the way I get sick and tired of it so easily. But for that, I might actually get enough practice to improve upon the many other things that are wrong with it!

fairyhedgehog said...

SillyBoy: I have that problem too at times. You've written some really fun stuff, though.

Richard N said...

I learnt my grammar at school, then I went to work for a company that had just been bought out by an American firm.

One of my first jobs was to go through every single item of technical documentation and 'translate' English into it's bastardised cousin... 'correcting' our faulty English spelling and enforcing American grammar on what was, until then, classically-perfect English.

The linguistic vandalism I was forced to commit still gives me cold-sweats.

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard: I hope that was the nastiest job you ever had to do because it sounds soul destroying.

Jessi said...

Gah, I use so many commas. You'd think that the internet would've destroyed this for me by now, but instead, I think it made it worse. Even in casual chit-chat, it seems like the comma is the one punctuation mark that I cling to regardless.

I think I'm just a little possessive over it, too....and possibly defensive Growing up, I was taught how to use commas in several different ways. For example, when you list three or more items, a comma goes between each item *including before the "and." In high school, my English teacher informed us that was archaic and we were promptly marked off every time that last comma was used. Grrr. There were other instances where we got into debates about whether a comma should be used as well, so I almost always stand by my comma usage.....even if only out of spite, hehe.

One of my more annoying habits when it comes to writing, though, is my over usage of the word "just." Just this, just that, just blah, blah, blah. I don't know where I picked up the habit, but I have to consciously avoid the word or go back and edit it out.

fairyhedgehog said...

I was taught not to put a comma before "and" in a list, as it stood in place of the comma. In quite a few lists I think it makes the sense clearer so I do use it. Making sense matters more than pedantry!

"Just" is a great word for sneaking in where it isn't wanted, as are "very", "actually" and "though". I have to take them out when I go back over what I've written.

Richard N said...

FH: Soul-destroying doesn't even go halfway there...

I had the last (ironic) laugh though - a couple of years later there was a management buy-out led by an Englishman and the transatlantic language-rapists were out on their corporate ear.

I had the great 'pleasure' of shredding two years of my painful work and restoring some sanity to the world once more - because I'd disobeyed a direct order from the American 'overlords' and preserved all of the originals intact. :-)

fairyhedgehog said...

I'd disobeyed a direct order from the American 'overlords' and preserved all of the originals intact.

That was a smart move! But how utterly misrable to spend so much time on something that had to be undone.

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