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Thread: ABNA Dilemma

  1. #11
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    As I recall your original post of A hooked many of us here. If that isn't a pitch I don't know what is! lol.

    BEST of LUCK!



  2. #12
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    So I was reviewing the manuscript I submitted to the contest (basically the same file I used for the Kindle and Creatspace versions) and discovered a couple of typos that managed to slip past the other bajillion times I've edited the thing. In the course of fixing everything up, though, I realized that I have a major problem with commas. I could have sworn I'd cleaned all that up and yet there are still bunches more that don't seem to serve any useful purpose. I appear to be a comma junkie.

    So help me out here. Where are commas needed, tolerated, or banned, particularly in compound sentences (another thing I'm apparently fond of, along with parenthetical statements)? In particular, would you use a comma before the "and" in any of the following sentence patterns:
    1) This happened and that related thing happened.
    2) This happened and that unrelated thing happened
    3) This happened and then that happened.
    4) That and that happened and then that other thing happened.
    5) This and that happened.

    My general habit is "no" for 1, 2 and 5 and "yes" for 3 and 4, largely to indicate a brief pause in the sequence of events, but is that actually correct?

    As a follow-up, what if "and" is replaced with "but"? Does that change anything? I suspect the answer should be "no", but that just looks strange to me (as you can tell by the comma I just inserted in this statement).

    Ultimately, I believe I'm subconsciously trying to help the reader out by inserting pauses into long sentences, but does it actually help or hurt comprehension?

  3. #13
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    If there's a subject and a predicate (a complete sentence) before and after "and" use a comma before "and". Same for "or". If "and" or "or" connects two nouns to one verb or two verbs to one noun, no comma.

    1) This happened, and that related thing happened. (a subject and predicate before and after "and")
    2) This happened, and that unrelated thing happened. (a subject and predicate before and after "and")
    3) This happened, and then that happened. (a subject and predicate before and after "and")
    4) That and that happened, and then that other thing happened. (first "and" connects two nouns to one verb, second "and" has a subject and predicate before and after it)
    5) This and that happened. ("and" connects two nouns to one verb)
    6) This happened and astonished everyone ("and" connects two verbs to one noun)

    In a list of three or more things, always use a comma before "and" or "or". The exception is pairs considered as a single unit, then no comma. So,

    I like baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie.
    I like Cher, Bono, and Donnie and Marie.

    That's about it for "and" and "or" off the top of my head.

    I typically use a comma before "but" because 99% of the time, "but" indicates an exception to whatever came before it and usually has a subject and predicate before and after it. However, when "but" connects two adjectives like "short but sweet", no comma. Also, don't use a comma when "but" is used in what I call negative exclusions and inclusions:

    Nobody but Allen danced with Nancy. (excludes "Allen" from "Nobody")
    The phantom not only killed but mutilated his victims. (includes "mutilated" with "killed")

    And of course, there are colloquialisms that use no comma like "anything but that" and "all but <adjective>, but for standard everyday usage in your average compound sentence, "but" usually likes a comma.

    That's my two cents.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 02-25-2014 at 04:30 AM.

  4. #14
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    You know, all those conjunctions really function the same way. Essentially, if you connect two sentences, use a comma, if you connect anything else, don't. How's that for short and simple? Of course, this is English, and there are about a bajillion exceptions, but if you start there, you'll be OK the majority of the time.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 02-25-2014 at 04:47 AM.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Thanks, John, that puts some reasonable sense of order on the whole thing. I think the biggest problem I have is just keeping things consistent; half the time I use a comma and half the time I don't, and after a while it just looks random. I'll finish my sweep through the manuscript over the next day or two and submit the "final" version to the contest, hopefully before they close off the initial stage.

  6. #16
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Alrighty...victory's in the air.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Sadly, I'm sorry to report that I didn't make the first cut. My only consolation is that 7,999 other people didn't either. Oh, well, on to create my next best-seller...

  8. #18
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    It's all political.

  9. #19
    Member Lawrence Tabak's Avatar
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    A lot of wheat gets thrown out with the chaff in these mass contests. You should look at the sales figures of the books that have won this thing in the past if you want an immediate lift.

  10. #20
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence Tabak View Post
    A lot of wheat gets thrown out with the chaff in these mass contests. You should look at the sales figures of the books that have won this thing in the past if you want an immediate lift.
    Amazon generally doesn't release sales data like that.

    The winners get displayed prominently at places on Amazon's site, plus they're guaranteed to be part of various sales and the Vine reviewer program. It's nice work if you can get it.

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