This has absolutely nothing to do with my books but I’m going to write it anyway because, after all, this is a blog. There’s a fair amount of people that don’t like commas, a very sad amount of people that never use them, and even some people arguing heatedly over whether or not we even need them (don’t know about the Oxford comma debate? I’m sure Google does). I use commas a lot. Probably more than most people I know and I use them in my writing. The point of a comma (as I was taught, a long time ago) is to show the reader where to pause. Sentences and writings are all intended to convey the voice of the writer (except in textbooks) because you can’t just sit around and listen to people talk all day.
When I write, people know exactly where I would pause if I were speaking. When I read stuff by other people, with no commas, I actually try to force myself to not pause automatically. Take this sentence, for instance: “The following day Jo hiked up a very large hill with her cat boyfriend and picnic basket.”
You automatically paused at ‘the following day’, didn’t you. Because you knew there was supposed to be a comma there. Now, you’re probably wondering if Jo’s boyfriend is actually a cat or if Jo has a cat and a boyfriend but they’re two separate entities. Without commas, you would never know if Jo has a pension for bestiality and picnics. See how that works? Maybe I’ve read too much Proust or maybe some of the people, in the world, haven’t read enough. Maybe they just don’t understand that commas are perfectly fine and what they’re natural intention is all about.
Try this one, without pausing because there are no commas: “Running down the hall as fast as her mangled legs would carry her she slammed her shoulder hard into the wall grazing the open wound and smearing blood under the family portraits that tittered back and forth from the jarring movement as she screamed for someone anyone to help her.” –Kind of hard to read if you can’t pause and take a breath.
And, my personal favorite: “I love to cook my babies and my cats.”
The last one for you, on the Oxford comma debate: If you were at a restaurant and the menu said, “Each entree comes with your choice of two: a salad, fries, coleslaw, tomatoes and raw fish.” Without the Oxford comma, you might be a little upset if your tomatoes showed up on top of a bed of raw fish. See what I’m saying?
Before anyone goes all crazy and accuses me of misplaced commas, comma splices, improper use of, or anything else, I have this to say: comma down, it’s all in fun.