Before You Submit: Run-on Sentences

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about Run-on Sentences.

Was I embarrassed when an editor corrected a line a narrative by commenting that it was a run-on sentence, and I didn’t know what a run-on sentence was? You bet. I had to look it up.

Basically a run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses are connected without the correct punctuation or coordinating conjunction.

Here is an example of what not to do.

After the avalanche, Darren changed, he’s been getting into fights at the bar.

As you can see, I liked commas at the time. 🙂

The corrected version is:

After the avalanche, Darren changed. He’s been getting into fights at the bar.

The second comma changed to a period. The second sentence starts with a capital letter.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I was lucky to have an editor who took the time to correct my writing during my early days of crafting a novel.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .


8 thoughts on “Before You Submit: Run-on Sentences

  1. That second comma is also called a comma splice. Even though they aren’t correct, I see them all the time in published fiction, even from the big 5.

    It’s not necessary to break that sentence into two. You can also use a semicolon or an em-dash. The semi-colon is less often used in fiction, but the em dash is gaining popularity. So, another possible correction is:

    After the avalanche, Darren changed—he’s been getting into fights at the bar.

    That way, the two/three thoughts expressed in the sentence are still joined, each leading to the next. I think it makes the sentence more powerful, but I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to overuse the em dash. I cull a lot of them in the final draft.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m just over on the amazon site reading about Saving Gracie. Congrats on winning the kindle book review. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m sure you’ve practiced enough to get rid of any unwanted em dashes.


  2. Thank you, Nancy! I had exactly the same thoughts about the comma splice, as well as the possible use of a semi colon to connect the clauses properly. 🙂

    I get a lot out of this series, Kristina! Good stuff.


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