Have you ever been engrossed in a great story and suddenly stopped short to ask yourself what the writer is referring to when “it” appears? Here’s an example:
“Sue and Mary found six dresses to try. It fit and was in her price range.”
What is “it,” exactly? In the context of the sentence above, “it” is used as a pronoun, and illustrates a common (and avoidable) writer mistake:
A quick grammar review: Pronouns are a useful part of speech that give writers greater flexibility in naming schemes. Instead of using and reusing a noun, the substitution of a pronoun allows for a type of shorthand. For example, instead of writing, “The moment John walk into the store, John realized John had forgotten John’s wallet at home” (pretty clunky, huh?), this sentence becomes, “The moment John walked into the store, he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home.”
Personal pronouns are fairly straightforward. Most of us use I, he, she, they, him, her, them, his, hers, and theirs properly . . . but “it” often present unique problems for writers.
“Should I or shouldn’t I?” That’s the question most writers ask themselves about commas, and Eric Baker wrote one of the best explanations I’ve read to help you decide. Wish I’d written one that was half this much fun!
Do you have any idea how hard it is to think up an enticing blog post title when your topic is sentence clauses? That’s about as unsexy a thing as can be discussed. My other options were Full Frontal Commas and When Punctuation Marks Hook Up, but I ultimately decided “sentences clauses” and “comma” both belonged because the union of those two language elements is what we’re talking about today.
I’m willing to bet that when writers express worry about their punctuation skills, their chief grief is commas. Like, when to use one and where to put it (by the way, if you block out the rest of this post, you have to admit what I just wrote could be sexy). Today I shall discuss one aspect of comma use: when they are required to separate sentence clauses and when they are not.
The guidelines are pretty simple. If you have a dependent clause, you don’t need a comma, and if you have an independent clause, you do need a comma. Important note: Dependent and independent clauses are typically separated by “and” or “but.”
But sometimes, to even the most experienced writer, grammar talk sounds like bleeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh grldlugnk fzzznuh. Therefore, I shall provide examples.
I was invited by Shonda Brock, author of the paranormal romance Eternal Traces, to help demystify the editing process for new authors as well as to share some tips on how to edit your book and how to find the right professional editor.
Shonda asked some great questions; here’s one with my answer as a sneak peek, and then I invite you to jump over to The Paranormal Blog and read the rest.
What do you find are the most common mistakes writers make? Most writers fall into a pattern of error that they aren’t even aware of. When we don’t know we are doing something incorrectly, we just keep repeating the same mistake. If you have a tendency to use dangling modifiers, for example, you probably use them quite frequently. The same can be said for comma splices, run-on sentences, and of course, punctuation, which is almost everyone’s Achilles heel. I was the queen of semicolons before I learned how to use them correctly!
Shonda asked some great questions, including “What are your thoughts on authors using beta readers before sending a manuscript to a professional editor?” and “How much can a writer expect to spend to have an average length novel professionally edited?”, so please head over to The Paranormal Blog to learn more, and don’t forget to check out Shonda’s paranormal romance Eternal Traces!
Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!
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