Thursday, September 15, 2016

Run-on sentences

I thought I was the queen of run-on sentences...until I saw some Facebook posts.  It seems to be a problem for many writers.

As many of you know, I'm going back through some of my books and fixing up typos and things of that sort.  Run-ons are the bane of my existence, especially in some of my older books.

Here's a definition (from grammar.ccc.commnet.edu):

RUN-ON SENTENCE (sometimes called a "fused sentence") has at least two parts, either one of which can stand by itself (in other words, two independent clauses), but the two parts have been smooshed together instead of being properly connected.
(Wow...that's kind of run-on by itself, huh?)


Anyway, here's what I've found in my own works:


  • If you can't say it in ten words or less, make it more than one sentence.  More than one sentence has more impact than putting the information all together.  Short sentences carry more punch.


    Example:  Her life was all about her father and she had no right to feel badly, but really wanted to make it on her own, by herself.

    This is better:  Her father's issues consumed her life.  She had no right to feel badly, because he was her father.  But she wanted to make it on her own, by herself.

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    • If you have more than three items in a list, make it more than one sentence or cut it down to three things.  Groupings of three or less seem to make sense.
    Example (not a great example but it'll do):  After they both got inside, he moved away from her, pushed the button for the twentieth floor and the doors closed. 
     

    This is better:  After they both got inside, he pushed the button for the twentieth floor, and the doors closed. (Don't necessarily need the second comma, but I used it to show the three items--got inside, pushed the button, doors close).
     
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    • 'And' and 'then' are not always your friends.
    Example:  The driver pulled up to the curb and Melody fished her wallet out of her purse, but not before John paid the fare.

    This is better:  The driver pulled the cab up to the curb.  Melody fished her wallet out of her purse, but John paid before she could offer the fare.

    Another example:  After grabbing her suitcase from the trunk, he thanked the cab driver, then walked with Melody into the hotel.



    This is better (taking out 'then', making it a grouping of three things):  After grabbing her suitcase from the trunk, he thanked the cab driver and walked with Melody into the hotel.



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    • The thoughts in a sentence should be related.
    Example:  He was too beautiful, probably a player and he definitely didn’t live in anyone’s basement.



    This is better:  He was too beautiful.  She considered him a player.  He wasn't the type to live in anyone's basement.

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    Needless to say, I'm learning a lot about run-on sentences.  If you have to catch your breath while reading the thing, chances are it's either a run-on sentence or it's just too long.

    Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books

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