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I feel like I'm using too many commas. I'm a pretty young writer and I didn't exactly pay attention in English class very often (I was too busy reading a shit load of books and passing with C+'s) and well now that I look back on it, I really should have paid attention during the ':;,' proper usage.

Excerpt from story:

“You need to drink this herbal tea” he said, handing her a stinking mug full of grossness.

“...Right” she said and drank the glass in one long pull. Then threw the mug at the wall.

“Don’t blame you. I’ve had that tea before...”

“What's your name, Magician”

“Gnarf the Wise”

“Your name is Gnarf?”

“Yours is Nu’nah, so you shouldn’t be talking”

They both broke into laughter. For Gnarf it was pleasant. For Nu’nah it was a pain filled movement that brought her to tears. Maybe he’ll think they’re tears of joy.

“You okay?” he said

“Y-yeah” she said, squeezing her eyes shut and willing to pain the recede. “Bucket?”

“Nah, im good” she said opening her eyes

Even he could see they were full of pain.

“You poor girl” he said, his voice full of sorrow

“Just stop that ‘you poor girl’ thing, i hate it” Nu’nah said angrily “It’s happened, nobody could’ve stopped it, so just keep your pity to yourself”

This is the first piece I've written and I would like to know what I'm doing wrong. Maybe I'm just critical about my work or something.

  • Have changed your title to focus on comma usage. Asking about "non-standard sentences" is getting a bit close to grammar questions or requests for general critique, both of which are off-topic here. Welcome to Writers! – Neil Fein Sep 28 '16 at 17:18
  • I would suggest looking up some punctuation rules if you intend to edit. I'm a young writer as well, and google is my best friend when it comes to checking my punctuation. Your weak points, aside from commas, judging from this except seem to be on when to capitalize and punctuating dialogue. Just a word of advice, one writer, to another. – RE Lavender Oct 1 '16 at 23:54
  • There is no school. There is the library. All you have to do, if you really care, is pick up a book by a reputable author. Pick up a book by a master of English and see how he or she does it. Pick up H.L. Mencken. Pick up Wodehouse. Read. See where their commas go, and where they don’t. School is merely training wheels: literature is the lifelong course. – August Canaille May 24 '18 at 10:46
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You aren't using enough, actually.
A comma belongs before each dialogue tag- unless your character is asking a question or exclaiming, in which case a question mark or exclamation point, respectively, should proceed the dialogue tag.

I think it's a good idea for you to study up on punctuation and also grammer.

Compare this example to your original excerpt to see why:

“You need to drink this herbal tea," he said, handing her a stinking mug full of grossness.

“...Right," she said, and drank the tea in one long pull before throwing the mug at the wall.

“Don’t blame you: I’ve had that tea before...”

“What's your name, Magician?”

“Gnarf the Wise."

“Your name is Gnarf?”

“Yours is Nu’nah, so you shouldn’t be talking."

They both broke into laughter. For Gnarf, it was pleasant; for Nu’nah, it was a pain filled movement that brought her to tears- maybe he’d think they’re tears of joy.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Y-yeah," she said, squeezing her eyes shut and willing to pain the recede.

“Bucket?”

“Nah, I'm good," she said, opening her eyes.

Even he could see they were full of pain.

“You poor girl," he said, his voice full of sorrow.

“Just stop that ‘you poor girl’ thing- I hate it,” Nu’nah said angrily. “It’s happened, nobody could’ve stopped it, so just keep your pity to yourself."

It's not too late for you to learn about commas and other punctuation marks, and doing so will make writing a lot easier for you.

I wish you the best of luck! Keep on writing, reading and improving!

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I agree - this actually needs more commas. One of my favorite resources for grammar is from a community college's website: http://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/marks/marks.htm

(Well, it used to be a CCC.edu URL -- they seem to have updated it -- it was the Capital Community College of CT, but now it's a foundation -- I'm glad, as it seems the web page is more likely to be permanent.)

This link shows 11 rules for commas. Do not try to handle all of them at once!

elements in a series, with a "little conjunction" (or FANBOYS), with introductory elements, to set off parenthetical (extra) phrases, to link adjectives, before quotes, for contrast, for confusion, between city-state or date combinations. Also NEVER between a subject and verb (unless other rules are indicating required commas - but ideally subjects/verbs aren't interrupted.

So that's a LOT -- just proofread for one or two at a time.

Also, if commas are a concern, you may have other issues of confusion; reading aloud can catch many of them. Often someone starts a sentence one way and then by the end, the writer forgot the original things, so there's unnecessary repetition or thinks no longer "fit" right.

Solve what you can on your own, and then getting a friend or writing-center tutor to review your draft can help find more issues. They may not know what you MEANT, but they'll know what's WEIRD, and then you can fix it.

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