What stupid writing thing did your beta find this week? I bet you have a writing crutch, too.

Do you have a writing crutch?  Is there something you do over and over again, but you have no idea that you are doing it because it feels right?

Mine, apparently, is the use of commas.  SEE!  I just did it again!  I naturally place a comma anywhere where I would pause if I were speaking.

Funny, a beta called me on this last year, and I thought he was nuts.  Several other betas have corrected my commas here and there, but didn’t mention my overall addiction.

Recently, a new beta said (paraphrasing) “I’ve read your blog, so I expected you to overuse commas in your novel, but it really slows down the reading.”

I honestly didn’t even realize I was doing this.

Now I am looking for them like a hawk in my novel.

So, what about commas my blog?

I don’t know.  I might let them fly here.  When I type out a post, you should feel like you are talking to me.  If there is a comma there, I am probably taking a cyber-breath.

What do you think?  Do they annoy you?

I find this extremely funny, to be honest. (Tee hee, there is another one… they just fly out of my fingers.)

I’m not editing any of my natural commas out of this post, just for the fun of it.  This is how I speak.

Now, I just need to make sure all my character dialog and narration doesn’t suffer from my comma frenzy as well.

What do you do in your writing that shoots out of your fingers without you even realizing it?  (Gosh, do I want to put a comma in that last sentence, just to break it up a bit!  ARGHHHH!!!)

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21 responses to “What stupid writing thing did your beta find this week? I bet you have a writing crutch, too.

  1. The lack of commas bugs me and slows me down when reading. I think you should write it how you say it. Not every beta reader is grammar god.

  2. In addition to my copious comma usage, my beta readers continuously comment on my meandering sentence constructions, rife with phrases and numerous secondary observations, that slow down any action that might be taking place to a snail’s pace, to the point that the reader no longer even cares what happens anymore.
    You get the picture. 😉
    That and the shrugging characters who keep pushing their hair out of their eyes.
    I couldn’t do this without betas!

  3. I’m also guilty of overusing commas in wrong places… my critique partner is a strict comma user, and always picks up on my misuse of them…

  4. I, too, tend to overuse commas. Wasn’t there a book where that was a symptom of a character’s deterioration? Of Mice and Men, or some other stuffy, required high school reading?

  5. I overuse the comma, even after I’ve gone in and deleted a few.

  6. Marie Gilbert

    Great advice and love the sites. No comma
    Love your blogs.

  7. There are two schools of thought on this, and from where I’m sitting, equally valid.
    One, that commas have rules for their usage and they should be followed; that it’s perfectly reasonable to expect competent writers to be able to demonstrate that they can punctuate correctly.
    Two, that punctuation is a tool and we use it for the purpose of facilitating the reading experience, and any use of punctuation that achieves that result is valid.
    Chances are, of you’re submitting your manuscript to agents and editors you’re likely to be submitting to people who hold dearly to both schools of thought. My advice is, write the book in the way your muse moves you and submit what looks and feels right to you. The agent or editor from the same school of thought as you will be more likely to be a good publishing partner on other reasons if you have that in common.

  8. Okay, I’m going to rain on the comma lovefest (just a little!). Anyone going the traditional publishing route should invest in a good manual and learn about proper comma usage. In this day and age, you don’t want to give an agent or editor any reason to pass on your manuscript. And if we drive them nuts with comma faults, then they can too easily start nitpicking for a few pages—and then toss the manuscript in the reject pile.

    My crutch? My characters nod and smile like bobblehead dolls. Delete, delete, delete!

  9. I’m the opposite. I was told by an editor recently that I have “a comma deficiency”. 🙂

  10. You are so hilarious. In my blog posts and all social media, I’m an exclamation slut. Love them!!! But, in my writing, I’m a comma whore, or would that be hoarder? Yeah, I think they are natural pauses as well, but your beta’s right. They slow down the story. I’ve got my book out to a beta right now and she fancies herself an editor. I’m a little scared to get it back because I doubt there will be much reason for exclamation points. 🙂

  11. Jennifer, funn you should ask, since I do it, way too much also. I got called on it this week by my main reader and she said, “What’s with all the commas. You afraid to let the sentence go off and have fun by itself?”

    So, I will try, though it is hard, to stop this neurotic need to pause, and hesitate, and well ,,,,, 🙂

  12. This issue has always confounded me. Aren’t we supposed to insert commas where a natural breath is taken? Every so often we misplace one or two, but I can’t tell when their use must be limited. Maybe the sentence structure needs tweaking to avoid the use of the “ever so offending” comma? (I was so conscious of my comma use in this comment that I managed to only use one.)

  13. writerwendyreid

    I do exactly the same thing, insert commas wherever I would pause as I’m speaking, and until someone explains to me why that is wrong, I’m going to continue to do it. 🙂

  14. Not only do I have a Comma addiction and have been in recovery long enough to know it’s not working, but I love, love, love the mighty and handy dandy dash — ! Every edit of my WIP involves comma insertion and removal and I really never do know if I’ve gotten it right.

    I love the quote by Hemingway — something about taking all afternoon to edit one sentence, taking out a comma and then putting it back.

  15. You’ve got me thinking about commas and how I use them and the natural pauses as I read. I love your use of comma, it works.

  16. I love the commas because if you’re a crazy fast reader like me, it’s easier to hear your *voice* in my head if you write like you speak. I think NOT using commas where they’re natural is more of an affectation.

  17. I think your commification is just perfect. I don’t think you should change a thing. 🙂