Comma Splice Blues
Many writers have a hard time keeping grammar rules in their heads and/or implementing them correctly when they’re actively writing. Just like I can’t play fetch and edit (or write!) at the same time, you may find it hard to plot and write and keep everything grammatically correct at the same time. So here comes another tip for those self-editing sessions:
Eliminating comma splices.
A comma splice can be difficult to detect because when we talk, we tend to speak in long, run-on sentences without a full stop between ideas, fragments, phrases, or complete sentences. They sneak into writing without detection easily that way, but they’re almost always incorrect unless you’re deliberately using a literary style of writing called “asyndeton” that eliminates conjunctions on purpose and inserts commas instead. THIS PAGE explains that type of usage and displays the example of “This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely…….” that was used in Rhetoric by Aristotle.
Some examples of a comma splice are:
My dog needs frequent attention, I didn’t have time to write this article.
When I go to the store, I need to get apples, do you want to come, too?
The sun is really strong today, I need to buy more sunblock.
The next article has a lot of difficult information in it, I should start writing it immediately.
As you can see, these sentences make perfect sense when you say them out loud in conversation, but they’re not grammatically correct. In replacing the comma splice, they either need a period/full stop, a semicolon, or a conjunction (and, but, so, etc.).
My dog needs frequent attention so I didn’t have time to write this article. OR, My dog needs frequent attention. I didn’t have time to write this article.
When I go to the store, I need to get apples. Do you want to come, too?
The sun is really strong today and I need to buy more sunblock.
The next article has a lot of difficult information in it; therefore, I should start writing it immediately.
Next week we’ll discuss ‘Showing Character Emotion’
This series is not meant to be (nor will it be) simple static information.
I’ll be here for each post to answer questions, offer suggestions as necessary, and interact with you.
If there’s something you specifically want (or need!) to see addressed in terms of self-editing, please let me know in the comments under this, or any of the articles of the series.