Monday, March 17, 2014

Commas ... Whatever



You guys sure know your grammar errors! 

Commas are the number one grammar-related error literary agents encounter. 

Does that mean that you should all log onto Amazon, buy the best grammar book in the world (i.e., Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares), and study Chapter 5.

Yes and no. 

You should all totally buy the book, but don’t bother reading Chapter 5.

It turns out that literary agents don’t care that much about commas. Here are quotes from three different agents:

“The improper use of the comma is probably the most common error I see. But commas are also one of the most complicated pieces of grammar, so this is often very forgivable.” 

“Commas seem to confound many young writers. I’m fairly flexible in the use of commas. Because comma rules can be confusing and arbitrary, I am less critical of comma errors than other types of errors.” 

“If you don’t know how to use commas, you’re better off underusing them than overusing them.”   

Well, guess what, literary agents, I don’t care about plot or character development or tone or style! So there!

13 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

I disagree with the validity of the comma error statement. Because I do. Too many people, including agents, believe commas are for telling people where to breathe (and I've been in classes where teachers are busy telling their students that), and that's just not true. Sure, that's a byproduct of commas, but it's not what they're for.
And this really has nothing to do with your post; I'm just ranting about commas and the fact that if you pick up three different "style" guides, you'll get three different sets of rule on how to use commas.

susie said...

I said commas. Do I get a sticker? Even thought it doesn't really count?

the late phoenix said...

you don't need plot development or a binding theme to sell a book, you just need a main character that looks good and is oh so sexy.

Shelly said...

You tell 'em, sister!

Kelly Polark said...

I knew it! :)

Jono said...

What DO literary agents care most about? That should be your next question. Inquiring minds want to know!

cestlavie22 said...

Considering commas are my biggest struggle this is encouraging to hear! I always thought because it was such a common error it would be looked at with more vigor. Interesting post!

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Nice to hear that our queries don't hinge on a misplaced comma ;)

Romance Book Haven said...

Knew it! But at least if I miss using commas, my ms would not be rejected!

Yolanda Renee said...

I'm a comma junkie! Hello, my name is Yolanda Renee and I overuse, under use, and simply misuse commas!

Forgive me please!

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hey, stranger! *wild waves* I apologize for being away for so long. I hope you and yours are well.
I'm one of those who struggle with comma rules. Is there a summer school class of yours I should be signing up for? ;)
-Jimmy

Theresa Milstein said...

Next to the lie/lay nonsense, commas are my biggest battle. Good to know I'll be forgiven for it.

rosaria williams said...

Ahhhh!!!!