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Watch out for run-on sentences

Posted by Maria Murnane | January 18, 2016

I recently read two indie books that shared the following problem: they were both infested with run-on sentences. I don’t throw around the word “infested” very often, but I’m using it here to make a point. The run-on sentences ruined the reading experience for me. I was so distracted by the errors that I couldn’t focus on the stories.

Example #1

What was written:

“What do you mean,” John said running his fingers through his hair.

How it should it have been written:

“What do you mean,” John said, running his fingers through his hair.

or

“What do you mean,” John said as he ran his fingers through his hair.

or

John ran his fingers through his hair. “What do you mean?”

The problem with the original structure is that it means that John literally said the words “running his fingers through his hair.”

 

Example #2

What was written:

“I don’t know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced,” Lisa said giggling.

How it should it have been written:

“I don’t know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced,” Lisa said, giggling.

or

Lisa giggled. “I don’t know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced.”

or

“I don’t know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced,” Lisa said with a giggle.

The problem with the original structure is that it means that Lisa literally said the word “giggling.”

Do you see the difference in the above examples? Commas are small, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important! If you don’t want to use them for whatever reason, be sure to adjust the structure of your sentence accordingly. Remember: you want your readers to focus on the story, not the grammar.

-Maria

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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