Writing Tip #3: Those Tricky Commas

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Often writers use commas in one of two ways:

1. They use far too many commas, and use them in the wrong places.

2. They use too few commas, so that the meaning of their sentences becomes confused.

I’m going to show you examples of each, and how they can be fixed. Here are some examples of using too many commas:

Example: He found, that in his work as a vet, he often became too attached to his patients.

Edited sentence: He found that in his work as a vet, he often became too attached to his patients.

Or better yet: As a vet, he often became too attached to his patients.

Example:  Although I could have been wrapping my fingers in his wild mane of hair, I knew I would have felt awful, the morning after.

Edited sentence: Although I could have been wrapping my fingers in his wild mane of hair, I knew I would have felt awful the morning after.

Now, two examples where commas should be used, but aren’t:

Example: I don’t remember what she said but at that age she knew how to mollify me.

Edited sentence: I don’t remember what she said, but at that age, she knew how to mollify me.

Example: I caught the elevator with a messenger who bounced his bike tire making the floor shimmy.

Edited sentence:  I caught the elevator with a messenger who bounced his bike tire, making the floor shimmy.

Have a question about writing? Please comment or email me: leslie@lesliewellsbooks.com

Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a contemporary romance set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com

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