A couple weeks ago, we finished editing all the short stories and poetry that went into the next edition of Mavguard. Since then, I’ve been thinking about something a lot of writers and editors stress over. It’s a single little punctuation mark, and yet one that drives many of us to the edge of our sanity on more occasions than one.
What is this foul beast, you ask?
It is the dreaded comma.
You’ve seen the memes, I’m sure, that talk about stressing over the placement of a single comma. For many of us, it’s hard to know exactly where they should go and where they shouldn’t. After all, the rules with commas are really made to be broken in literature. There’s a struggle there, between writer and reader. We want the sentence to be read a certain way, by adding a comma, but that comma might not be entirely grammatically correct.
And so, we sigh and continue staring at the mechanical device.
So I’m here to tell you one very simple thing, which many writers tend to forget about while they’re in the editing process.
Unless you’re publishing yourself or through a self-publisher, your eyes won’t be the last ones that go over at your work before publication.
Most of us have these wonderful people called editors, who go through our work after we’ve finished and make sure everything is as it should be. Or very nearly so. And very frequently, that comma you’ve been stressing over will mean very little in the long run, through the eyes of your editor.
Many writers forget that though our novels, our short stories, are our works of art and our babies, they are not so in the eyes of our editors.
That’s the real brilliance of having an editor. Those beautiful people will go through our work after us and take out any erroneous commas and add in ones that we might have missed along the way.
So you know what? That comma you’ve been staring at for the last hour and a half, you can move along and ignore it. Your eyes won’t be the last to pass over that comma. If your editor likes it there, it’ll stay. If they think it’s better to remove it, it’ll be removed. That’s the way it works. It’s not all down to you. Don’t worry. We’re all in this together.
Did I mention RAD Writing has some marvelous editors?
Editor, Mavguard Magazine