What sense do you use to punctuate?

Some people hear a comma, some see it, and others follow the rules. #writetip What’s right for you?

For me, it’s a combination of all three. When I write my first draft, I like to hear the punctuation. Somehow it makes writing flow easier. I don’t worry about whether it’s right or wrong at this stage. I think this lets my natural style come out.

When I review the first draft, I pay attention to how punctuation looks. Does the page look too cluttered? Is my eye distracted by the noise? If it is, I check to see if I’ve overused any punctuation marks.

During my final proofread, before sending the novel to anyone, I check whether my punctuation follows the grammatical and syntactical units of my style guide. If it doesn’t, then I decide if I want to break a rule or follow it. I want my voice to come out, not that of the rules. I also don’t want to make glaring errors.

Like most things in life, punctuating a novel is a balance.

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4 thoughts on “What sense do you use to punctuate?

  1. I have a beta reader that always complains that I use too many commas. My problem is that I am an English Major, and I KNOW where commas belong. However, I see now that if you use a comma everywhere it is gramatically correct, it can stumble a reader, or look excessive.

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    1. I think you can apply the rules differently depending on the writer. If you are beta reading for a writer that doesn’t like to use too many commas, maybe only add ones that are absolutely necessary. The opposite goes for a writer that uses too many command. Take out the ones that break the rules. It’s hard to make everyone happy.

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