1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Fragments

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Jan 26, 2016.

    Anyone know any guidelines for fragments? I tend to use them a lot. I drop pronouns, possibly even subjects and I'm not sure if they work.

    Here's something from my work in progress - The scene is a fight in the dark -

    Ignoring Noir's continued protests he doubled up a fist and punched in the direction of Noir's head. Connected with a solid skull. Noir's cries turned into a yelp, but he hit him again.

    If you take out that second sentence it doesn't make any sense on its own. It only makes sense in the context. I heard someone say though that fragments should still make sense when they're taken out of their context. They should still contain a solid thought.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Works fine in my view. In fact, if you read thrillers and horror you will come across this sort of thing all the time. Some of those authors tend to employ fragments quite often. I've also seen it used quite a bit in fantasy and science fiction.
     
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  3. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    That's right, unfortunately. The fragment thing drives me nuts. I can't see a reason not to place an 'and' between 'head' and 'connected'. Scans better that way too, I think.
     
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  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I often use this as a device for pacing or for reflecting disorientation in a character.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with KittyPike and Ed. I'm a fragment lover. We'er here. Fragmentary. Get used to it. ;)

    This kinda' relates to that comma-play thread where opinions are getting rather warm. :) It's a thing one can do or not do, like or not like, employ or disavow. I don't engage in comma-play, but I happily embrace the fragment. ;)
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I don't mind fragments, especially in that kind of scene, but I don't like the one in your example. To me it would definitely read better as "It connected with a solid skull."
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd go in the other direction, actually. Just for fun:

    Ignoring Noir's continued protests he doubled up a fist. Punched in the direction of Noir's head. Connected with a solid skull. Noir's cries turned into a yelp, but he hit him again.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I knew the it could've helped it along or an and - but something inside just wanted Connected to be the first word in the sentence. I sometimes get stubborn like that wanting a certain word to begin or end a sentence. :rolleyes:

    I like your reworking of it, Jannert!
     
  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I think they work just fine. Though I think they work easier with first person, because people can be short or blunt in their thoughts. Suppose they could work in third person, but may come off as rough or lazy on the writers part. Though it all is based upon the observer, and their level and grasp of both the language and the style the author is trying to convey in the story. There will always be 'English Professors' and 'Grammar Nazis', that will crap their snobbish panties over every little fault they find in any piece of writing.

    On a side note, I find minor things like mistakes in both indie and established published authors alike. So there are no perfect writers out there, who have zero mistakes in any given piece of work. If you have a avid reader base then why worry about small things like fragmented sentences? (Most people don't understand the fundamental dynamics of sentence structure any way.) :p
     
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  10. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    Huh. I'm not sure why expressing a preference constitutes 'crapping one's snobbish panties'. There are, I think, circumstances where fragments are acceptable, but not in the example cited. All too often their use seems forced and gratuitous, in a 'look how clever I am' kind of way.

    p.s. The worst offender in current fiction is Lee Child. His stuff has become almost unreadable.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This is what I was getting at - is it unacceptable because it's grammarly inaccurate or personally grating? I have no problem with it being either, I just want to know.
     
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  12. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @Earp I was referring to those people that are hardcore English buffs, that scrutinize every little thing that is written and have a superiority complex to anyone who makes even one mistake/error in their work. Some people have an affliction for writing fragmented sentences that they have a hard time correcting the problem. I don't think most frag writers are trying to be 'clever', but then again I have not had the pleasure of reading Lee Child or similar authors to fully understand how they would consider themselves 'clever' by writing frags in the first place. Will have to look into that.

    Whole thread:
    I think frags are ok with in reason as long as they make sense, and are not every/every other sentence. (Use at your own risk.) :p
     
  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm trying to work out WHY I don't like the 'connected...' example, because I don't like saying "I don't like that" without giving a reason. But I can't find a reason. I just checked my own fight scene, in which I use a number of fragments, and I can't tell why I find those ones okay but not this. Sorry, this is really not helpful...
     
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  14. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I think it comes down to personal taste, which is where you can obviously never please everyone. Some people won't like it because grammar, some won't like it because style. Same thing with singular 'they' or oxford commas: there's ground to stand on with it being grammatically incorrect or not, but the great and powerful grammar gods will not strike you down for doing it your way. Or if they will and no one ever told me, I may have to go do some editing real quick.

    Personally, I like your example for the punchiness, immediacy, and slight detachment it conveys, which works especially well in a fight scene. I'd get a different feeling off it with 'it connected' or 'and it connected', and they wouldn't be bad feelings, but if they're not quite the feelings you wanted to evoke, absolutely use your fragments.
     
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ I perceive that second sentence as containing a solid thought, and making sense on its own...

    Sure, there's a missing Subject, but what's likely to connect with a solid skull? Blunt object? Flying debris? Clenched fist? It doesn't really matter, it's fairly obvious what's going on.

    2/ Yes, second @jannert 's amendment.

    3/ The only quibble I've got is he doubled up a fist...doubling up is usually something that you do in pain, when somebody punches you in the guts. I'm not seeing it as the way to make a fist.
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I personally find it acceptable, if it works—as it does (I think) in your example. I would find myself getting grim about it though, if this was a device you used constantly. It's a jerky way to tell a story. That's fine, if jerky is the effect you're going for, but use it too often and it'll be like being a passenger in a car with manual transmission, driven by somebody who hasn't mastered use of a clutch.
     
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