Lately, I’ve seen something I never thought I’d experience from authors. Compound words are being split or hyphenated. This situation is far more than a shake of a head at the lack of understanding for English Grammar or having someone read your book before submitting. I can’t even blame this on a lack by teachers in schools, because it’s happening with people of all ages.
However, as an author, or even a writer transitioning to being an author, we are held to a higher standard. We are expected to know grammar rules and apply them accordingly. It’s not good enough for us to say “everyone is doing it.” That will only elicit an eye roll from the Grammar Nazi cracking your knuckles with a virtual ruler and have them point at the offending word.
As authors we are as much a keeper of the language’s rules as are teachers and librarians. It’s important for us to avoid lowering our standards to those who are challenged by these rules and show them what’s the right way to use these words. That’s hard, especially if we’re aiming for a demographic that is known for their lack of education. Yet, you can’t grab an overall readership if you refuse to follow the rules.
The same thing goes for run on sentences. I don’t mean a long sentence that might read better if broken into two sentences. I’m talking about paragraph or page long sentences that are connected with multiple conjunctions and commas. It makes me wonder if the author actually read their work out loud before deciding these ultra-long sentences were good to use. Oh yes, I’m actually going to crack that old chestnut.
We, as authors, should always read our books out loud before submitting them. Why? Because if you happen to score an event and part of it requires you to do a reading, you do not want to stumble in front of all those people because you have this beautifully crafted sentence that’s way too long and you have to take a breath in the middle. (Just like the sentence I wrote to get this point across.)
Even if we don’t have events, think about how the reader feels after going through a page long paragraph that is one sentence. They’re tired. They lost the thread back on the third line, and they are so ready to throw your book out the window in the middle of a rainstorm and tell everyone it’s awful.
Remember, when crafting sentences that it is all right to have an occasional long sentence, of no more than two and a half to three lines. It’s not all right to break up compound words, and the reader is always the person you should focus on when penning your masterpiece.
About K.C. Sprayberry
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.