The Runaway

I’ve mentioned run-on sentences. A single sentence containing two or more independent clauses joined without conjunction. What about runaway sentences? I don’t know if that’s the official label for them, but I like it. A runaway sentence is so long without break or punctuation that I have to pause, inhale or I simply lose my place.

A run-on sentence can also be a Runaway sentence. Sometimes a run on sentence may be ‘fixed’ and become a runaway one.

Amber picked up the broken pieces of her favorite tea mug while wiping her free-falling tears away with the sleeve of her now stained blue blouse that she wore today specifically to impress Dale. (34)

That sentence is 34 words long. Wow. While packed with information it’s a tad bit crowded.

The easiest way to break up a runaway is to well… break it up. This is easy but not necessarily the best way.

Amber picked up the broken pieces of her favorite tea mug. She wiped her free-falling tears away with the sleeve of her now stained blue blouse. She wore it today specifically to impress Dale. (34)

Still 34 words. Some words had to be changed to accommodate the sentence breaks. Now I would want to take that runaway, feed it, clean it, dress and groom the poor thing into a lovely polished paragraph. This means more or less words, different words and maybe even a different order…

Amber wiped her tears and picked up the pieces of her favorite tea mug. The dark smear on the sleeve caught her teary eyes. She wore the blue blouse to impress Dale, and now it’s ruined. (36)

Amber absently wiped her tears. “Just perfect.” She carefully picked up the broken pieces of her mug from the floor. The black smear on the blue blouse she wore to impress Dale caught her eye. “I’ve ruined my favourite tea mug and my blouse.” (44)

While the second one has 44 words, I might use this one since Amber gravitates to self-pity these days and she’s overly emotional lately.

Runaways are easy to do especially if I’m in just get it out on ‘paper’ mode. When I find them, I like to take a good hard look at them and make them better. I know personally, if I made a runaway, it’s likely because I had to much to say all at once and it was probably important information at the time.

My advice about runaway sentences that need to be shortened to make more sense so the reader doesn’t get frustrated and lose patience with what you are trying to say in that overly long point.
Well I sort of already said it… feed them, clean them, dress and groom the poor things into lovely polished paragraphs.


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16 thoughts on “The Runaway

  1. I remember being told by a publisher back in 2002 when I was whoring a half finished manuscript around, that my sentences were too long. (Back then publishers in this country actually talked to prospective authors). 5 years later the same person told me the finished manuscript had great sentence structure yet I’d changed nothing. The manuscript was still garbage and unsaleable but the long sentences were no longer too long.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah these days it’s ridiculous.

        We have a few publishers in this country who open submissions and ask for unsolicited submissions several times a year and they still refuse to get back to people despite actually asking for people to reach out to them.

        I understand they are busy and they can’t review every manuscript but I think it sucks they don’t get back to people. If a company asks people to contact it they should have the decency to at least say thanks but no thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂
        It’s a term we’ve used since the days of the band. Going to record labels day in day out trying to get someone to listen to our demos. Some of their offices were in the red light districts and even during the day we’d see the ‘ladies of the night’ and we started to feel exactly like them. Going in throwing ourselves at some prick who only wanted up for one thing then being kicked out when he couldn’t make it work.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I have to agree. With punctuation, a long sentence works. Too often I find the opposite is true, ppl chop sentences into 2 or 3 words constantly which can also distract. I loved your example. It took a sentence and made it LOVE. The others were words on a page. Super excited. Thanks very much.

    Liked by 1 person

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