Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Comma Favor?

Okay, so I've said before that I'm pretty clueless about copyediting. So mostly I just go for rhythm and instinct, then trust the copy editor. Lately, it's been feeling weird.

I'm picky about rhythm, but that's it. I know there are several theories of comma rules out there. One is the fortysomething-rule theory, the seventeen- or eighteen-rule theory, and then there's one around seven, and one that boils it down to two or three. (I forget the exact numbers.)

I don't care which theory you believe in, but will you tell me which you think is correct and why? Here are some examples--I didn't have time to make them sound like interesting sentences, LOL. Is A or B correct? (Or are they both passable, or ... you know. Whatever.)

A: I couldn't look at him as I edged past, and I kept my eyes hidden.
B: I couldn't look at him, as I edged past, and I kept my eyes hidden.

A: "Slide me your gun," he ordered, after I stood up.
B: "Slide me your gun," he ordered after I stood up.

A: I finally just shrieked, and left, slamming the door behind me as hard as I could.
B: I finally just shrieked and left, slamming the door behind me as hard as I could.

A: And that was that.
B: And, that was that.

So ... what do you think? (And thanks!)

17 bonus scribbles:

conley730 6/12/2008 04:58:00 PM  

I prefer the ones with fewer commas. For the first one "I couldn't look at him as I edged past, and I kept my eyes hidden", I was always taught that you use the comma with the word "and" to essentially separate two sentences. It's just easier reading to me if there are fewer commas.

spyscribbler 6/12/2008 05:16:00 PM  

Good to know. I don't get a STET opportunity, so I can't tell you how my eyes bugged out when I saw that first one, LOL. (Or, B of the first one.) It made me take a breath in too many places, and I felt like I was mentally hyperventilating, LOL!

I'm not crazy about too many commas, so I just wanted to ask to make sure it wasn't my own problem. I would never call myself a copy-editing expert, for sure.

Liz Wolfe 6/12/2008 08:12:00 PM  

I think A on all of them. But, I have to admit I'm comma impaired. My editor usually puts in about a zillion of them on my manuscripts.

Edie 6/12/2008 10:24:00 PM  

In order: a, b, b, a.

Robin 6/12/2008 10:50:00 PM  

I tend to like commas, but I'll decide to use them or not for comedic effect. Sometimes a sentence without them can be staccato and funny if it goes with the idea. Likewise, commas can give you a breath before your funny idea or punchline.

spyscribbler 6/13/2008 01:24:00 AM  

LOL, Liz. Well, 2 out of 4 ain't bad, huh? I've got that same comma issue, LOL!

spyscribbler 6/13/2008 01:25:00 AM  

Edie, I hope you're right! Those are my choices, too.

spyscribbler 6/13/2008 01:26:00 AM  

The artistry of punctuation. I love it, Robin. Love it. :-)

So when are you going to start a blog? :-)

Stephen Parrish 6/13/2008 01:50:00 AM  

If you can delete the comma (or anything else) you should. I would break the first example into two sentences.

spyscribbler 6/13/2008 01:59:00 AM  

Good eye on the first one, Stephen. I also agree about deleting the commas if I can. But someone keeps putting them in, so I was worried I was wrong. This time, they felt SO wrong I couldn't keep my mouth shut.

Argh. I don't know. I really don't mean to be difficult. It's just I suddenly saw my words up there with these commas that weren't mine, and ... they didn't read right. And I suddenly got this neurotic worry that people might actually think I write that way!

Bernita 6/13/2008 07:30:00 AM  

a, a or b - depending on the effect you want - b, a.

Melanie Avila 6/13/2008 09:01:00 AM  


No, not the band. The first one threw me but I decided on A.

I used to be a whiz at commas, then I started hanging out on writing forums where everyone over-analyses things and I can't do it anymore.

Anissa 6/13/2008 12:48:00 PM  

It would seem I'm an ABBA fan as well. ;)

Robin 6/13/2008 06:16:00 PM  

Well, since you asked...I have a blog at It's sick and twisted, and my last entry was about touching diarrhea. Come over and visit anytime!

spyscribbler 6/14/2008 04:12:00 PM  

The second one was the one I was least sure of, Bernita. Glad I get a choice!

spyscribbler 6/14/2008 04:13:00 PM  

Melanie, your comment made me laugh out loud when I read it yesterday! Isn't that the truth?

spyscribbler 6/14/2008 04:13:00 PM  

Anissa, I love it! ABBA. That's what I wrote. Oh well. Who knows. Maybe only I notice these things.