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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Search for the missing commas...

   
Author Topic: Search for the missing commas...
ChrisOwens
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Help with comma placement:
I was told the story was good, but the person almost didn't read it because of the missing commas. I must confess, I need to read Eats, Shoots and Leaves...

Maybe it should be?
I believe you, Mama.
No, she didn't

Where else?
--------------------------------------
I believe you Mama. I'd like to say that deep down I never doubted. But that ain't true. At least I told folks I believed you, even when it caused me trouble. Like the time the Briggs boy cornered me after gym...

He towered six inches above me. "Hey Danny. Heard your mother went nuts."

"No she didn't," I said.
--------------------------------------


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Beth
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In that sample, the two commas you mention are the only two I'd add.

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MaryRobinette
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The ones you pegged are the only ones that I'd say are really missing, although you could throw in a couple more based on clauses. The thing is, that when you're dealing with a narrative voice like this I think you have to look at the way commas affect the rhythm as much as what is technically correct.

You could add these, but I don't know that it would improve it.

quote:
I believe you, Mama. I'd like to say that, deep down, I never doubted. But that ain't true. At least I told folks I believed you, even when it caused me trouble. Like the time the Briggs boy cornered me after gym...

He towered six inches above me. "Hey, Danny. Heard your mother went nuts."

"No, she didn't," I said.



[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited May 09, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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You're telling everyone about what I did that day? I was just horsing around!

Anyway, I said, "Hey, Danny" (with the comma). ("Hey Danny" doesn't look right to me at all.)

Highly recommended: Strunk and White. It's online (look it up on Gigablast). It says exactly where you should use commas.

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited May 09, 2005).]


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ChrisOwens
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Wbriggs,

Don't mean to defame your name. But that's what you get for pushing the kid around.

Actaully, I named him for a bully I knew in 6th grade.


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jeduthun
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In the 'Hey Danny' sentence, it's the period that stops it for me. Do you want it to feel like he's talking faster: "Hey Danny, heard your mother went nuts" ? Even though it's not *correct*, it might have the desired effect without being distracting.
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Keeley
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I agree with Mary. Although you would probably need to put in the two you've mentioned simply to keep an editor from cringing, the most important thing is to keep the rhythm of your narrator's language. If everything he says sounds like a run-on, leave it as it is and let the comma police fume.
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