CWM: #10 — Adding too many details with commas

I’ve had a few authors use commas to add detail after detail onto a sentence. But they don’t realize how jam-packed the sentence becomes. Here are two fictional examples:

Laurence came through the door, looking for answers, looking for something to turn his path around, and looking for that foolish cat who messed up from day one.


Enola, a woman with thick, purple glasses and a light blue button shirt, walked through the door with her hair up in a ponytail, wanting nothing more than fried chicken and a cup of Kool-Aid.

These sentences can get up to a paragraph long. They are useful in some cases, but other times, they are hard to keep up with. Readers can also have a difficult time reading them, especially if they are back-to-back.

It can be hard to find these sentences though too. One can’t just search for every comma in Word or Google Docs since commas are everywhere. But what if you can find them another way?

Hemingway Editor is a helpful site for this. It marks hard to read sentences in yellow and very hard to read sentences in red. At the top right, it even tracks the readability level.

Use Hemingway Editor to see how your story looks to a reader. It’s a good resource to find long, jam-packed sentences and more.

A useful but long way to find them is by doing a deep edit. Pay attention to how long your sentences go on for. Did you reread a longer sentence to make sure you understood it right? Consider changing it up.

I hope this helps!

Want more?

#1 — Using multiple adjectives
#2 — Vagueness for tension
#3 — Repeating words for emphasis
#4 — Common misused words
#5 — Misusing hyphens

#6 — Unnecessary details
#7 — Not developing characters
#8 — The words feel and felt
#9 — Overusing character names

#11 — Different types of dashes
#12 — Not using plain language
#13 — Dialogue tags vs. action beats
#14 — Misusing commas
#15 — No sentence variation

#16 — Misplaced modifiers
#17 — Characters with similar names
#18 — When to start new paragraphs
This was originally posted on my writing blog.

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