NaNoWriMo Writing Tip #7: Punctuation

There are basically five punctuation errors that every writer must avoid.  These are:

1.  The Comma Splice – Two sentences joined only with a comma.

Example: He fell into the pool of water, his clothes soaked up the cold wetness.  This should be two sentences.

2.  The Run-On Sentence or Fused Sentence – A sentence containing two complete thoughts jammed together unnaturally.

Example: Edward’s skin lit up like a nuclear bomb his face shining gloriously as if to blind the world.This should be two sentences or should be revised to incorporate both thoughts.

3.  The Sentence Fragment – A sentence that does not contain a complete thought.

Example: I can find the horcrux.  If I wanted to.  Either combine the sentences or finish the thought of the second phrase.

4.  Dialogue Rules – All dialogue should be surrounded by quotation marks (“”) and each time a new person speaks, there should be a new paragraph… unless you are James Joyce.

5. Apostrophes –

Apostrophes indicating possession:

  • This is the girl’s doll. One girl owns this doll.
  • This is the girls’ doll. More than one girl owns this doll.
  • These are the girls’ dolls.  More than one girl owns more than one doll.

Apostrophes indicating letters missing from words:

  • I can’t find my hat.
  • I’ll get right on that.
  • It’s not okay to write about sparkling vampires.


Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

6 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Writing Tip #7: Punctuation

  1. I’m with you except on the fragment. Sometimes stylistically, only a fragment will do. It’s more about cadence and rhythm at that point than about what’s ‘correct’.

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