Bridge to Story

Running on About Run-ons

As we said in the last lesson, a run-on sentence combines two or more complete sentences. But they are missing the correct punctuation or conjunctions.

What is a conjunction (and what is its function)?

 

1. Plain ones (connects two nouns or two thoughts):

  • for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

 

2. Ones that are prepositions, tying thoughts together:

  • after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though, if, in order that,
  • rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when,
  • where, whether, and while.

3. Ones that work in sets:

  • either…or,
  • neither…nor,
  • not only…but also,
  • both…and,
  • whether…or.

4. Ones that work like adverbs:

  • Accordingly, also, anyway, besides, certainly, consequently, conversely, finally,
  • furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile,
  • moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, specifically, still,
  • subsequently, then, therefore, thus.

Remember that with fiction, you aren’t writing an academic essay or paper, using many of these might come across as ‘over-telling’, too much explaining, or just overwriting.

Example Toggle

Example:

Here are some excerpts from the work of real novices. (you’ve probably tried this at home) Notice the run on clauses caused by too many conjunctions in each sentence:

Because the gauze was wrapped around his ribs, rather than only tapped over the stitches, he felt safer, while the scab on his nose felt like it was exposed and in danger, indeed as if there was no dressing on it at all, instead gaping and subject to any passing swipe. (52 words)

The weather was finally about to cool, as the days lengthened the cloak of darkness that was kept from the land by a slow falling sun, dangling prolonged like a cat’s treat in the hands of someone who wanted to continue to stroke it. (45 words)

He hurries home from afternoon classes, at the 2 o’clock bell, while the blonde babysitter was still around, feeling large and hulky, and far too smelly to make a good impression on her highness, however driven none the less to fall under her gaze, since having those dreams of them in each other’s arms. (54 words)

Yes, novices do try to write this way, because they have so much the want to say, not because they are bad writers. Read on.

She had lost weight that last year, to be able go out with the other girls after work something she wasn’t drawn to do naturally but knew that it was the only way because how else would Sara have gotten her husband. (41 words)

Each one of these four writers took their work and ran it through three tests.

Test #1 asks that you highlight each conjunction just to see the number of them in each sentence. Don’t fix them yet, just realize that you have that many in there.

Do that. Highlight conjunctions. Start with these four examples, then, highlight your own work. Is there a lot marked up? Squint, just look at all the colour on your pages. Now go on to the exercise page for the other two tests.

Lesson Exercise 1 Toggle

Lesson Exercise 1:

Let’s continue work on this one:

He hurries home from afternoon classes, at the 2 o’clock bell, while the blonde babysitter was still around, feeling large and hulky, and far too smelly to make a good impression on her highness, however driven none the less to fall under her gaze, since having those dreams of them in each other’s arms. (54 words)

For test #2 copy, out this sentence then take a colored pen and circle all the commas within it.

Again no need to correct the sentence. The task here is only to become aware of the kind of writing novices are in the habit of putting on paper.

Test #3 is the easiest of all. After trying these tests on your own writing, read your work out loud, not in your head, but out where you can hear your own voice, preferably into a recorder.

You'll hear what your readers will be hearing in their heads as they read your work.

Correcting these finds might come later. For now use these three tests simply to call the tendency to over-conjunction and over-comma to your own attention.