1st Law of Joni’s Writing Bible

1st Law  Thou shalt not over use the comma. 

This was one of my biggest mistakes when I took up writing again.  I had forgotten as an adult so many of the elementary punctuation rules.  The comma is, in my opinion, one of the most useful gadgets in a writer’s tool box.  When you’ve finished your first or second draft and you’re ready to begin a more thorough edit, like your personal line editing, please pay special attention to your commas.

In case you have forgotten, as I had, here are a few examples of appropriate and common comma use.

Examples

“Hi, Helen, how are you?” asked James through the crack in the closet door.

“Don’t travel into the Forest of Poetry.  You’ll never write prose again,” said Bartholomew, his only sane warning.

“I want white, fluffy kittens that have already had the demons exercised and the hairballs extracted.”  She then sat with a thud upon the white, padded chair.  The nurse, Jenny, tightened the straps of her straight jacket.

Note: Sometimes you may want to include a comma to give a beat or pause for thought, or drive home your point.  But remember, commas, if overused destroy the poignant effect for which you be be searching.  Overuse of this tool will make your characters, in my opinion, sound like melodramatic actors in a bad teenage drama.

Example

If there was one thing that would eradicate Samuel’s desire it was Mountain Dew.

If there was one thing that would eradicate Samuel’s desire, it was Mountain Dew.

Either is acceptable but is Mountain Dew really that important? I submit that it is.  – Enjoy!