1. Rabid Fox
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    Rabid Fox Member

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    I May Be A Commaholic

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rabid Fox, Mar 5, 2009.

    They say the first step in curing an addiction is admitting you have one. That being said, there's a very good chance that I am addicted to using commas in my writing.

    I will go on a tear in my writing during a rough draft, then I read it through and can't help but notice the flurry of commas on the page. It may be neurosis and paranoia, or it could be a full-fledged problem with the way I write. Either way, I become quite self-conscious about the amount of the little punctuation mark.

    Has anyone else found themselves pouring over their work and becoming a wee bit distracted by the seemingly endless sentences?
     
  2. Viamence
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    Viamence Member

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    I'm guilty of that as well, but unless you have 40-word sentences dominating your pages, I'd say that's fine.

    Many big-name authors have long sentences chopped up with commas, but sometimes you just don't realize it because it flows properly. I think that's the most important part in judging whether it's a problem.

    Check to make sure it's constructed soundly, makes sense and doesn't disrupt the reader.

    'Course, that's only my opinion.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I have that problem sometimes.

    I'd say its a symptom of overcomplicating your writing. You use unnecessarily complex sentances, with multiple clauses and parentheses. Sometimes your writing can be improved by just using simple sentances.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I try to use as short as sentances as I can and commas for me is usually not an issue. But I actually find I am more of a semi-colonaholic than anything else.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no offense meant to the op, but i can't help asking if there's such a word as 'commahol'... if not, then there can't be any such thing as a 'commaholic' can there?... or a 'chocoholic' or any of the rest of its ilk that make my virgo blood boil...

    i've always been amazed [and appalled] at the word 'workaholic' and all the other semantically inane '-holic' hybrids that abound, since none of the words other than the orginal end in 'hol' so can't possibly make any sense as '-holic's... am i the only one on the planet that finds this laughable [to say the least]???
     
  6. LeoMars
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    LeoMars Member

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    The last thing you want in fiction is to overuse the comma. In fact, when it comes to commas, most fiction writers would sacrifice grammatical correctness on the altar of style anyday. Leave commas for academic writing, I'd say.
     
  7. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a commaholic too. I don't even know if I'm placing them in sentences correctly; I just put them in whenever I sense a pause. I also have too much love for the semicolon. And I'm way too wordy and ramble. I have other issues, too, but I'll keep them to myself. :p
     
  8. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    I agree with this wholeheartedly.

    I, not too long ago, had a tendency to, to the dismay of mine own eyes, write sentences with far, far too many commas (although, I think that, in this example, 'tis apparent that this, this sentence here, is a rather exaggerated exaggeration).
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a good point. In academic writing we try and signpost the facts given, but in creative writing, too many commas can disrupt the flow. (And I couldn't possibly restrain myself from using two commas in the previous sentence!)
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but don't toss the baby with the bathwater, folks!

    leaving out needed commas can completely skew the meaning of your sentences... the trick is to learn how to use them properly, not to just leave them out for simplicity's sake...
     
  11. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Well, I'd say it's just pride.

    Like, there's no justifiable reason to be indignant or annoyed when people saying 'chocoholic' or any of the conjugations at the beginning of 'holic,' but we get annoyed, anyway.
    It's just WRONG, and we feel that we are being dealt a grave injustice or something. I'm not absolutely sure, but I still think it's just pride that gets our panties in a bunch about it.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see where pride can come into it, since none of us originated the english language, so what is there to be proud of?

    when something is wrong and we know that it's wrong and the constant doing of that wrong annoys us, how can that be connected to pride in any way?

    artists are supposed to respect and care for the tools of their trade, so when a writer's prime tool, the language in which s/he creates the works of art is mishandled and treated badly, why should s/he not be annoyed?... same would hold true for a painter who sees people leaving uncleaned brushes and uncapped paint tubes sit overnight... or a violinist seeing someone banging an amati about... right?
     
  13. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Exactly right. If the OP is using commas to create long, complex sentences which are grammatically correct, that's one thing (see William James). If he's using commas to create run-on sentences, that's, well, wrong.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree, steve... but i was referring to the silly-to-me practice of tacking '-holic' onto all sorts of words that don't end in '-hol' and thus make no sense... and i was somewhat taken to task for saying it annoys me, which is why i posted that rationale...
     
  15. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I wouldn't use that comparison, as it seems to be jumping to an extreme.

    I would say that a more true comparison would be people coloring the leaves of trees blue, even though the artist knows BLOODY WELL that tree leaves are NOT blue.
    But it's silly to be annoyed about it, because the coloring of the leaves is being done with silly intentions.

    So with commaholic and the other conjugations, people KNOW that it is not a real word, they're just being silly.
    But, for some reason, it still burns our biscuits.
    It's absolutely harmless, but obnoxious.

    I say it's pride. Pride takes many forms, y'know.

    It's kinda like, when we see someone using it, and then seeing everyone just ACCEPT it, even though we don't accept it (and for good reason) we feel perhaps outcast, in a manner, and THAT is what strikes our pride.

    It's in a very subtle way, though. It is easier to just say, "It's wrong, so it's annoying."
    I think that is a cop-out, though. I have to wonder what makes me so irked at some of the most simple things, like, for example-- someone putting 'holic' at the end of anything.

    After all, he could have just said, "I am intemperate in my placing of commas."

    Oh, well. What ever you say back, that will be the end of the discussion as I don't want to come off as pugnacious or obstinate.
    This is more of a-- passing observation, an introspection, anyway. I can't expect anyone to even comprehend what I'm saying, if it's true to reality at all.
     
  16. LeoMars
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    LeoMars Member

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    Nothing wrong with words like "commaholic", "brownette", etc. Fiction writers should embrace and engage in word play, not discourage its usage.

    Commaholic here is actually a clever play on words as it emphasises the meaning of whatever the author of the post wanted to convey.
     
  17. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fine, as long as you remember it's to be kept to jargon or frivolous usage.
     
  18. Rabid Fox
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    Rabid Fox Member

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    Well, I think those who are annoyed with the use of "-holic" as a suffix are well within their right to be annoyed. I can imagine there are plenty of casual misuses of the English language in pop culture that drive them mad. However, this is an online message board. If there's one place where people can feel free to be lax in their strict adherence to grammatical accuracy, it's here. We're writers, sure, but we're also not slaves to the Oxford English Dictionary when writing something other than a masterpiece. :)

    As for creating run-on sentences, I tend to steer clear of the practice entirely when possible. There are rare instances when the ol' stream of consciousness prattles on during a rough draft, but I nip those in the bud more often than not. My main area of guilt with commas stems from the use of them to break up an existing sentence. If I write a sentence that sounds like there may be a pause somewhere in the middle, I have half a mind to slap a comma in there. It's a tricky tightrope sometimes, though not something I lose sleep over.

    It's also nice to know I'm not the only one who feels their prose gets a little comma heavy at times.
     
  19. Ohbalto
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    Ohbalto New Member

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    Whenever I finish writing something ("finish" in this sentence means, "stop until the next round of revisions") I like to read it back, out loud, and see how it sounds. Beyond grammatical correctness, though that will frequently win-out, if you read it like it's typed, not the way it exists in your head, the commas that don't belong will raise their hands and demand to be removed.
     

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