Comma splices - are they OK? - Page 3


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Thread: Comma splices - are they OK?

  1. #21
    Wɾ°ʇ°∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I am moved to respond more passionately than I thought possible over punctuation...
    One cannot over-emote when it comes to the old , . ? ; '

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCalliganWrites View Post
    My point is that calling a commasplice a mistake is a judgement that isnít grounded in anything factual. If the reader and writer agree that it isnít a problem, and there is no authority (there isnít) then itís not a mistake. Some people who donít like them might dislike the writing. Some people may be more easily distracted or confused. That still doesnít make it a mistake.

    If I drive a truck through a wall haphazardly and make a hole, then use that hole as my private door, and I donít care about or am not affected by the problems it causes, then it isnít a mistake. Itís a behavior that someone else might not like, but that doesnít matter. I didnít do it accidentallyóit happened incidentally like ripples in a pool when I wave my hand.
    I see what you are saying, but to me, something is lost when comma splices or any other stylistic quirk is used in this way. It belies a lack of care, which translates into a loss of confidence in the writer. Sure, it's not objectively measurable or correct, but the fact that a standard seems to have been established and then some writer comes along and demonstrates a lack of awareness of that standard, forms a certain benchmark for me. That's not to say writing that has comma splices etc is bad. Often I see very good ideas in there. They're just ... communicated poorly (or maybe too simplistically). To use your driving through the wall analogy: if someone said: "right I'm going to drive a truck through my house and use the hole as the door" I might say "ok that's interesting" but if someone crashes into their house and then thinks they've made a door and tries to convince me it's as good a door as my fine portico I'm going to struggle to take them seriously. That's not to say they might be a great person in other respects. They may well be. I would just wonder at their commitment to proper entryway construction.


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  2. #22
    Wɾ°ʇ°∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Thedancing kept up, the drinking kept up, the noise went on.

    This example is good because it has another device that under some conditions could be considered a poor construction: repetition. Yet it all works and has a lot in common with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". Funny how grammar mistakes can be abused to effect. I find the area of creativity where flaws occur to be the most interesting.


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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    There's literally zero reason to comma splice, it adds nothing and may just annoy a picky editor out of reading further. Pointless.
    I'm still trying to decide if this was deliberate or not...

    More to the point, I'm one of those who finds comma splices super-annoying and I have stopped reading work when too many of them appeared... and then Emma Sohan read the first bit of one of my own novels and picked one out on page three. ("It's not that I was psychic or anything, it was just hard to spend as much time around hockey players as I had without soaking up a lot of information.")

    So I think there IS a sort of range of egregiousness, somehow. There are some comma splices that don't draw the eye of most readers, and some comma splices that do, and I'm not really sure what the difference is between them.

    I agree that they're technically errors regardless of whether they're noticed, but there are other errors (sentence fragments, etc.) that I'm comfortable using for creative effect. I guess sometimes, even though I think comma splices are different, I'm comfortable using them, too.

    Writing is weird.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    I'm still trying to decide if this was deliberate or not...
    Haha, awesome!

    I think the part of the reason I get very vehement about editing is because I have experienced getting it wrong so much. I am, at best, mediocre when it comes to grammar and it's one of those things that I suspect has cost me opportunities in the past. So seeing it being shrugged at seems so clearly bad advice.

    More to the point, I'm one of those who finds comma splices super-annoying and I have stopped reading work when too many of them appeared... and then Emma Sohan read the first bit of one of my own novels and picked one out on page three. ("It's not that I was psychic or anything, it was just hard to spend as much time around hockey players as I had without soaking up a lot of information.")

    So I think there IS a sort of range of egregiousness, somehow. There are some comma splices that don't draw the eye of most readers, and some comma splices that do, and I'm not really sure what the difference is between them.

    I agree that they're technically errors regardless of whether they're noticed, but there are other errors (sentence fragments, etc.) that I'm comfortable using for creative effect. I guess sometimes, even though I think comma splices are different, I'm comfortable using them, too.

    Writing is weird.
    There's definitely a range. I think that might be what John Calligan Writes is really getting at, just his framing takes it too extreme in terms of questioning the nature of what a 'mistake' is.

    I think in discussing writing we do tend to have this problem with conflating the concepts of 'occasionally it works to bend certain rules a little bit in order to achieve X' with 'NO RULES BABY! JUST DOOOO IT"
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  5. #25
    @lucky I understand your main point even though I still disagree with it. I think the attitude toward SPAG in some publications is almost a genre convention at this point.

    My attitude isn’t the same as climate denial or anti-vac, because there is climate science and medical science, which look at the nature of things. SPAG is about clarity and taste. A bunch of people not liking comma splices sound like a bunch of people not liking East facing bedroom windows. Ok? Some people do. Some people like windows that can’t open, for some reason.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Haha, awesome!

    I think the part of the reason I get very vehement about editing is because I have experienced getting it wrong so much. I am, at best, mediocre when it comes to grammar and it's one of those things that I suspect has cost me opportunities in the past. So seeing it being shrugged at seems so clearly bad advice.



    There's definitely a range. I think that might be what John Calligan Writes is really getting at, just his framing takes it too extreme in terms of questioning the nature of what a 'mistake' is.

    I think in discussing writing we do tend to have this problem with conflating the concepts of 'occasionally it works to bend certain rules a little bit in order to achieve X' with 'NO RULES BABY! JUST DOOOO IT"
    I’m insecure about my poor education, so I like to defend the worst while trying desperately to conform in my own writing. You’ll never catch me out.

  7. #27
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    The semi-colon is just a posh comma splice...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  8. #28
    Back in the day, we called them "run-on sentences", which I think does a better job of defining them as always wrong. If I start reading a work by an author I haven't read before and come across run-on sentences, I start looking for other errors, which spoils my reading rhythm. That said, John Connolly, in his latest, A Book of Bones, uses them liberally, but I forgave him because the book is so good.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCalliganWrites View Post
    @lucky I understand your main point even though I still disagree with it. I think the attitude toward SPAG in some publications is almost a genre convention at this point.

    My attitude isn’t the same as climate denial or anti-vac, because there is climate science and medical science, which look at the nature of things. SPAG is about clarity and taste. A bunch of people not liking comma splices sound like a bunch of people not liking East facing bedroom windows. Ok? Some people do. Some people like windows that can’t open, for some reason.
    The analogy doesn't float.

    East-facing bedroom windows aren't strictly necessary; a fundamental command, knowledge, and execution of SPaG is.

    SPaG is a set of rules created to allow writing to be conveyed in the most efficient manner possible. Rules can be broken, but the breaker must live with the consequences. Is a one-word sentence useful for effect? Sure. Should you write an entire novel of one-word sentences? Hell no. This coins the well-known phrase "moderation in all things".

    However erroneous it may seem, using comma splices invites the possibility of being considered a writer who doesn't know how to construct a proper sentence. The only way to cast off this assumption is to write well in places where you don't use comma splices, i.e. "moderation in all things".
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  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Earp View Post
    Back in the day, we called them "run-on sentences", which I think does a better job of defining them as always wrong. If I start reading a work by an author I haven't read before and come across run-on sentences, I start looking for other errors, which spoils my reading rhythm. That said, John Connolly, in his latest, A Book of Bones, uses them liberally, but I forgave him because the book is so good.
    A run-on sentence is not the same as a comma splice. Run-on sentence:

    John went to the shops he bought eggs.

    Comma splice:

    John went to the shops, he bought eggs.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

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