Make Your Editor Cry: FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
In the narrative, if at all possible, avoid beginning any sentence with any of the so-called FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, or So) coordinating conjunctions. Also use caution with because, or British English equivalents such as no more, as well, and neither.
While coordination of equivalent words is fine, coordinating sentences is weak writing. Sentences are often much stronger when they stand alone. Example:
Reads as weak:
So she wanted to get married. And she felt like the time was right to get married. But she was not completely sure that he was the right man. Or, it could be that she had yet to get over her last relationship.
Reads much stronger:
She wanted to get married She felt like the time was right. She was not completely sure that he was the right man, though. It could be that she had yet to get over her last relationship.
Too many sentences beginning with conjunctions often tire readers out, as if they are reading a very long run-on sentence. We do not (or at least ought not) write narrative prose that conforms to the same manner in which we speak. Narrative prose is expected to read much more clearly, cleverly, and concisely than the spoken word. Therefore, carefully evaluate whether the sentence reads stronger without the coordinating conjunction as the first word. Examples:
Buts are for sitting, not for sassing, and certainly not for starting a sentence.
Yet, it is not completely forbidden. For there are some
sentences that just sound better this way. And it works well in some
instances. But best done sparingly.
Try dropping the FANBOYS conjunction altogether and see if the sentence holds up. Try alternatives like just, merely, only, purely, simply, also, too, however, though, although, or still. Try revising or rearranging the narrative to eliminate the need to coordinate the two sentences so the flow reads more naturally.
Gregg Bridgeman is the Editor-in-Chief at Olivia Kimbrell Press. He is husband to best-selling Christian author Hallee Bridgeman and parent to three. He continues to proudly serve in the US Armed Forces and has done so in either an active or reserve capacity for more than twenty years as an airborne and air assault qualified paratrooper, earning a Bronze Star for his service. Most importantly, he was ordained in October of 2001 after surrendering his life to Christ decades earlier.