Friday, June 06, 2008
With my deepest apologies to Master Shakespeare.
Fans, Authors, Editors, lend me your ears
I come to bury Comma not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them
The good is oft interred with their bones
So let it be with Comma. The noble publishers
Hath told you Comma was unnecessary:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Comma answer'd it.
Here, under leave of EC and the rest--
For EC is an honourable pub
So are they all, all honourable pubs--
Come I to speak in Comma's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me
But they say he was unneccesary
And they are honourable pubs.
I just wanted to hold a small memorial service for proper punctuation. I've been told by my editors and my final-line editors (at two different epublishers) that commas are unnecessary in fiction, because fiction is "informal." Unfortunately, commas were not the only punctuation mark assassinated. Semi-colons are also a target, and so I removed them completely from the above speech.
I, personally, feel the loss of the comma quite deeply. He was a friend to me. I think of all the English teachers who did everything in their power to teach me how to use Comma correctly. I think of my own students, who, at the age of eighteen, finally learned actual rules for comma use. I think of all the professional proofreaders and authors who struggle valiantly to preserve this noble, yet dying, creature. Keep fighting the good fight! Commas are not unnecessary. Commas do not disrupt the flow of the sentence. Novels are not less formal than other types of writing. And publishers, whether they're epublishers or in New York, shouldn't be so frightened of this piece of punctuation. It's not hard to use properly!
But I am shouting into the void.
Good night, sweet Comma. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.