Friday, July 5, 2013

Humility: Every Writer Needs It

Open Punctuation

I’ve just had a lesson in humility. I’ve been editing a manuscript written by someone else. When I felt that it was as good as I could make it I sent it to a proofreader. Her main comment when I got it back was that “if I shook it real good a lot of commas could come out.”

Well, she was right about that. I don’t know how much difference that will make in how I write. However, I have noticed that fewer commas are used in modern books. What I have learned from and because of my proofreader is that:

  1. If both independent clauses are short, using a comma to separate clauses in a compound sentence may not be necessary.
  2. Not every phrase or clause has to be set off with a comma. Sometimes things make just as much sense without them.
  3. “Open” punctuation style displays not only fewer commas but other punctuation as well.

However . . . . .

In attempting to research “open” punctuation online I find that it is a recent innovation (thank God!) brought about by the electronic age and most references to it have to do with business letters. Phew! I was starting to wonder if I’ve become passé.

Pop Quiz

I’ve only used three commas in the passage above. I could have added at least ten more. Where should they go?

Have you had an experience involving “open” punctuation? I’d love to hear about it. Please use the comment form below.

© Beth Morgan