Learning punctuation with "Eat Shoots & Leaves" [was: have you ever taken a grammar course?]


I think I’m an OK writer. I’m really good at finding and organizing information, but I rely on grammar checkers to make my writing passable.

One of my biggest weaknesses is commas.

Can anyone recommend a website or course that could help me level up?


The problem with technical explanations is that they often restrict you in the sense that you would think you are bound to them, when you aren’t. Doesn’t happen often, but then gain, it does.

Rather then do this, I would recommend that you read literature that you like and listen to your own voice as you read along with careful observation of the punctuation used.

In this manner, you learn the “music of writing” and not necessarily its rules. Rules become irrelevant, because you can’t possibly break them after that.


It’s easier to know when to break the rules if you know exactly what they are :wink:

I also have the incessant drive to know


I don’t know of an online course, but the book “Eat, Shoots & Leaves” is a great book on grammar. It helps you wth comma usage and it’s fun to read. You can get it on Amazon.


Excellent! I enjoy reading books a LOT more than taking courses. :smiley:

[edit: ordered used for $5 incl delivery; might as well grab a copy of Elements of Style while I’m at it :]


I refuse to take any online course.

I was top at the class at school and college (before I quit). However, I’m the kind of person who can study a subject, pass an exam paper with flying colors, and 3-days later not be able to spell the course title. Alternatively, learning and figuring things out as I go, seems to embed knowledge much better.

Then there is the expense factor. My experience is that only a tiny number of buyers on Fiverr and elsewhere, actually care about qualifications. (Of course in some cases people will.) What top quality buyers seem to look for is proof of past experience.

Learn on the go. That’s what I say. Also, make sure to keep everything you ever write, even if it’s just in a big messy pile. As a basic rule, if you are not horrified by the standard of your own work when you look back a year later, you are not improving as a writer or anything else.

(Of course, there are exceptions to the latter rule.)


haha yeah… I started writing a year ago, it’s pretty easy for me to look back and see nothing but improvement over the last year.

I definitely keep everything I write… I love mining old articles\research projects for information


Start writing fiction. Then put everything in a draw, lock it, and come back 3-5 years later to see how much of what you wrote has actually came to transpire in real life.

I have tons of half finished short stories which have either came true or which have since been written by someone else. I even decided to test my discovery once, by writing a bizarre as possible story about the moon being a moldy egg and cracking open one day to reveal billions of spiders. - A few years later that was a Dr. Who episode. (Albeit a very bad one).

At present, I’m thinking that the BBC has a chip implanted somewhere in my brain and uses me to come up with all their programming ideas.


Hah, I’m not into writing fiction… maybe someday when I have free time. I’m still trying to make up for an early retirement that took me out of the workforce for 10 years. After I can earn a living with 40ish hours a week there will be time for hobbies. In the meantime I need to double my income. Once I’ve learned enough that I don’t spend forever in research I might even be able to earn well at my current rates.

Before I start writing fiction I’d like to have enough time to read it occasionally. Books are cool from what I can recall.


Indeed. Not having time to read when you are a writer is like taking your inner child aside and shooting him or her.

All I have is books but no time to read any. At the rate I’m going, I’m going to turn round one day and just see a gargantuan bookworm sitting and starting to nibble on the wallpaper.


Google Desty Nova, you’ll love it.


@jcmcbride Thank you so much for sharing this book with me!!! I’m almost finished and I will be reading this many more times.

I already feel a LOT more confident with punctuation of every sort.

This is really the best education I’ve ever gotten on “how to write”


@daviddoer You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked it. It’s probably time for me to reread it again.


like it? I love it! saved me a lotta money on some stupid grammar course, lol. I’ll be reading this again and again; as well as passing on a copy to my niece who’s headed to college in the fall.

writing has never been more enjoyable!