I'll be honest. This is a short post on commas because I don't know much about them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm a writing teacher, coach and soon-to-be-published novelist. I've got me an MFA.
And commas still confuse me.
I tend to put them in manuscripts, both mine and my students'.
But I noticed that the editor of my novel took a lot of my commas out.
This morning I worked on a student packet that needed commas after clauses of sentences. So that meant, of course, that I had to explain to my student why I put the commas in.
And I will admit that I was pretty hopeless at it. (If you want an extreme emphasis on grammar, don't ever hire me. If you want great ideas about story, character, and setting, I'm your gal.)
Commas, to me, are like art: I know when they go in a sentence, but I don't necessarily know why. So here's the explanation I offered my student and the one I offer you:
Read the sentence out loud and any time you pause, put a comma there.
That's it. That's all I've got.
Maybe you have something better? Some general piece of advice about commas? A nifty site that reveals all the secrets of the beast? Please comment.
**And if you do want to hire me, here's the scoop. I've got amazing clients doing great work at the moment. Wouldn't you like to be one of them?