Writing a complete sentence seems like a simple thing. Don’t be fooled, it’s not. Take the previous run-on sentence, for example. Smart people from all walks of life don’t always write in complete sentences. Executives, attorneys, doctors, and even PhDs repeatedly use commas where periods should be and write long “sentences” that are unfinished thoughts. As they’re working on describing something, thinking hard, trying to ignore the dog barking outside, and the phone starts ringing. Oops, they write an incomplete thought, like that last sentence.
Run-ons and incomplete sentences are a fact of life for even the most intelligent people, so just acknowledge it and don’t take it personally. (Be forewarned, though, that well-meaning friends and family members are notorious for pointing out every incorrect sentence in a book.) Focus on writing well and making sure you get all your thoughts down on paper and then use an editor to help you polish your manuscript.
Which of these sentences is a run-on sentence?
- Don’t worry, this book doesn’t have errors.
- It’s not just a story, it’s a true story.
- I tell you what, I’ll read it.
- Don’t get me wrong, I like that sentence.
The answer is all of them are run-on sentences, but a good editor would catch them before your book is published.
Another issue that often comes up for writers are Incomplete sentences. Take the sentence below for example.
Some interesting books which caught her eye, even though they were on the back shelf.
Omitting the word, “which” in this sentence makes it complete, but this is an example of a short incomplete sentence. Much like run-on sentences, long, incomplete sentences tend to get away from an author and need to be sorted out or restructured to avoid confusion. That’s why no matter how long you have worked on your manuscript or how many times you have read it, you want to make sure you have your book edited before you publish.