For years I have considered myself a writer, but for years I have seen grammar as the unfortunate, dreary sidekick that got in the way of the more glamorous aspects of writing. I grew up reading the dense and flowery prose of 19th century Europe; these writers were opposite the American style and tended to prefer complexity over simplicity. Because my own writing shared this passion for the long-winded and flowery, I rationalized my fear of grammar as a stylistic choice. I often argued that run-on sentences were necessary in order to illustrate the depth and feeling behind my writing.
It wasn’t until I began re-reading my own writing that I finally began to see just how hard to read my comma-happy prose really was. Sometimes I would have to read the same sentence over and over again to finally get the meaning, and often I found myself wishing for a breath or pause between sentences.
I realized avoiding grammar wasn’t a style choice. It was a disservice to my readers. My writing became stronger when I finally learned about the comma splice. A comma splice is when two complete sentences are connected using only a comma. Ways to fix this run-on are to add a coordinating conjunction such as “and,” make it into two separate sentences, or add a semi-colon.
Eliminating comma splices has helped me write cleaner and clearer sentences, without compromising their depth. Although I will probably always enjoy the meanderings of 19th century prose and will probably never be a minimalist like Hemingway, I have found that combining simple grammar with complex ideas makes the experience for my readers all the more fluid and meaningful.
Virtual Writing Center Tutor