Comma Comments

The rules for commas—when and how to use them—are often vague.

I feel blessed because I can hear them. Yes, I know, commas are silent, but their purpose lies in their tacitness, telling readers when to pause. And I can hear that, the pauses.

Commas are like rests in a musical score, the places where musicians stop to generate effect. Commas indicate the writer’s intention to slow the reader’s pace, to emphasize a point, to compel the reader to reflect.

If you hear your writing in your head, whether while drafting or editing, you know what I mean, and you’ll know how to use commas.

Or, heaven forbid, if that doesn’t work, then imagine your work without them.

    I feel blessed because I can hear them. Yes I know commas are silent but their purpose lies in their tacitness telling readers when to pause. And I can hear that the pauses.

    Commas are like rests in a musical score the places when musicians stop to generate effect. Commas indicate the writer’s intention to slow the reader’s pace to emphasize a point to compel the reader to reflect.

    If you hear your writing in your head whether while drafting or editing you know what I mean and you’ll know how to use commas.

    Or heaven forbid if that doesn’t work then imagine your work without them.

Then comes the issue of serial commas, which is the last comma before “and” or “but” or “or” in a series. In truth, some publishing companies like them and some do not and some don’t seem to care.

I choose a middle path; that is, not to use that last comma in a series of simple items like “the cat, the dog and the mouse.” But I find them to be highly beneficial in a series of long phrases, such as: “Our committee decided to formulate an hypothesis regarding the injection of serum into malignant mice, to gather data on research by others in the field, and to foster a greater understanding among professionals who are also interested in this subject.”

IMG_9218-Panglao-Island-hopping-2012-01-30-crop-600pxw-224x192This tree, near Panglao Island in The Philippines, tells a story of tides, currents, weather and scenery.

It extends its branches in palms-up fashion and nonchalantly says, “Hey, in high tides, I’m up to my lower branches in briny water.”

It points to its line of progeny to the right and says, “The current flows in that direction.”

It gestures to the clouds above and says, “Those friends bring rainstorms to keep these tides and currents coming.”

It smiles toward the distant mountains and says, “Those majestic masters rise above the ocean to offer diverse views.”

The matriarchal tree reminds, “We are all one, all unified, all connected in the grand and glorious ebb and flow of life.”

Photo by Robert M Weir, January 2012, while island hopping off the coast of Panglao Island, The Philippines.




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