Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Grammar Guide
The Serial Comma

Here at The Dragon, I have the unforgivable sin of switching randomly from journalistic style (AP style) to good ol’ Standard English grammar style in my blog articles. I can’t help it. I forget which style I decided to use when I set up Today the Dragon Wins and, well, you get both. And you’re going to continue to get both so long as I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown…

So let’s discuss the use of the serial comma, which you see (sometimes) here at The Dragon. First, I will define the serial comma: it’s the last comma before the word “and” in a series of items in a sentence.

Hrazon, Chariss, Rohne, and Nigel star in my new novel Choices Meant for Gods.

The final comma after “Rohne” is referred to as the serial comma. What’s unique about it is how much trouble it causes for writers.

If you’re writing a novel, business letter, personal letter to a friend, book report, etc., you use the serial comma. It shows up. It gets included.

If you’re writing an article for the newspaper, a magazine, a letter to the editor, or some other journalistic medium, you do not use the serial comma. It disappears. It gets left out. That’s the way the Associated Press likes things to be.

If you’re writing a term paper or thesis for a grade, there are other style books that dictate the serial comma’s use, and you should refer to and follow those guides (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, your professor’s latest mood swing, etc.).

And that’s all there is to it! It’s terribly simple. For Standard English writing, which most people do, use the comma before the “and” in a series of items. In the next Grammar Guide, we’ll talk about “the rest of the commas.”

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fourteen-plus years and is the author of the upcoming novel Choices Meant for Gods.)
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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