Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Tip Wednesday--Comma Splices

You've spent the last week working on dialogue, right? Here's a different example that came up in a question from one of my chapter sisters.

What happens if the dialogue is split, with the tag between two parts of continuing dialogue?

"I heard," Bob whispered, "you had a new book released last week."
**Notice the placement of the commas inside the closing quotes of the first segment and after the tag; the first word in the second segment doesn't get capitalized since it's a continuation of the sentence from the first segment. This only applies to a single sentence of dialogue split by a dialogue tag.**

You're ready to tackle comma splices now, aren't you? I know you are :)

A comma splice contains two or more independent clauses connected by commas. This means each section of the "sentence" can stand alone.

Examples of comma splices and their possible corrections:

1) I jumped in the lake, the water was cold. (comma splice)
I jumped in the lake. The water was cold. (correct)
I jumped in the lake and the water was cold. (correct)
I jumped in the lake, but the water was cold. (correct)

2) My dress was purple, my shoes were blue, they didn't match. (comma splice)
My dress was purple, but my shoes were blue. They didn't match. (correct)
My dress was purple and my shoes were blue. They didn't match. (correct)
My dress was purple and my shoes were blue, so they didn't match. (correct)

Notice that each independent clause (the parts separated by commas) in the comma splice examples has a subject and a verb. Use conjunctions like and, but, so, etc. to make compound sentences or replace the commas with periods to make separate sentences. Be sure to capitalize where necessary.

I highly recommend buying a style book for handy reference. Chicago Manual of Style is widely used and offers comprehensive guidance in almost all areas of grammar and punctuation, along with lots of other great information for writers. I have a copy on my desk and refer to it a lot! Others are available, so research your target publishers to find out what their house styles are.

Feel free to make comments or ask questions! Happy Writing :)

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. You're amazing Mellanie. When you explain this stuff, you make it so clear and easy to understand. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Jim! Grammar doesn't have to be painful :D

  2. Thanks for another great writing tip and post, Mellanie!