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commas-save-livesWhen it comes to writers, I’m not the best out there. I’ve earned most of my editorial/writing positions based on stamina and persistence, not talent (as joyless commenters at my college newspaper loved to remind me). I never stop practicing, but I’ll never be on par with gems such as Jonathan Franzen or David Foster Wallace. I don’t aspire to have careers like theirs, and that’s fine.

That said, I do become sad and even a little disappointed when people fail to use commas. I don’t go crazy with commas, but I do use them every time there’s a break in one of my lines. I find myself advising new writers all the time, “If you hear a pause, insert a comma.” Not everyone wants to honor the comma, and this brings out the worst in me. Don’t you want to give your readers the extra second or two to process your phrase? Don’t you want to split up your thoughts to give each of them the time they deserve?

I don’t mean to complain or criticize. Really, to each his own. There are plenty of writing rules I break on a regular basis, but for some reason, it physically pains me when writers overlook the value of a comma.

Do you have any writing pet peeves? Share with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear all about them, even if I rub you the wrong way with my own preferences 🙂 I rarely capitalize anything on Twitter, and boy, does that bug some of my followers!

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