Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ask Away! I'm a new writer re-learning the rules of grammar & punctuation — help!

We've been seeing more and more questions from aspiring authors in our inbox, so we're turning them into a new, semi-regular feature — Ask Away!

Do you have a burning question about the writing, revising, or querying process? Do you have a dilemma and want some advice or a second opinion from fellow writers?

Email us at firstnovelsclub [at] gmail [dot] com, tweet us @firstnovelsclub, or leave a comment on this post — we might answer your question next!

Round Two!


I have a grammar question for you that I cannot seem to find the answer to. I am currently writing a children's chapter book for my daughter. [...] In one of my stories [...] I, as the author/narrator, toss out little funny and informative comments in the story. My problem is the placement of punctuation, specifically commas, when I am using parentheses to show a narrators smart aleck comments. I am just not sure where to put them. Can you help me on this?

- Brian


Hi Brian!

Grammar rules can trip up even the most seasoned of writers. In your situation, there's no need for commas before or after the parenthetical asides. Just do the normal punctuation of the sentences within the parenthesis, and you're good to go!

In general, my go-to place for easy-to-understand grammar/punctuation advice is Grammar Girl —

Best of luck!


Ok, readers! What grammar or punctuation issue trips you up every time? My personal Achilles heel is lay vs. lie — I ALWAYS have to look it up! (The answer is here!

Ask Away - Round One! Should you query an agent's assistant?

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