Sentence Fragments

As I was reading the book, Grammatically Correct, by Anne Stilman, the sentence fragments page. In high school and college, I learned that sentence fragments were unacceptable when writing a paper for a grade.

Whenever I read novels, sentence fragments stand out, and I tried it in my manuscripts, but it felt wrong, especially when Microsoft gives me the red underline – meaning this is not a good sentence.

The definition according to this book is: “A sentence fragment is a group of words that is punctuated as a sentence – that is, it begins with a capital letter and ends with a terminal punctuation mark – but does not meet the criterion of “grammatically complete” as defined above. A dependent clause or a phrase, standing alone, would constitute a sentence fragment. Sentence fragments are technically errors, but they may be used deliberately for emphasis or some other effect.”

Most of the examples that I’ve read have been from books in dialogue, or ones that use 1st person narrative. I can read  the character’s inner thoughts and get to know them.

Now that I have shared my book’s allowance of technically incorrect grammar, I’m going to open one of my manuscripts and practice. I highly recommend this book from Writer’s Digest Books.

Do you like writing your characters thoughts or beliefs in ways that stand out to the reader?


6 thoughts on “Sentence Fragments

  1. Hey Jen- have you tried turning off word’s grammar correction while working on dialogue? It’s harder to turn off the editor in my brain, though!

    If you write in first person, the whole narrative is essentially internal dialogue, and it helps the voice not to be so stiff when you write more like people talk. Good luck, and thanks for reminding me:)


    • Hey Kelly – I didn’t realize I could turn off word’s grammar correction. I’ll have to look into that tomorrow. I agree that our internal editor is much harder to turn off! I’ll keep practicing and tightening my writing. 🙂


  2. i use sentence fragments a lot – not on purpose, but it’s just how I write. They are slipped in there with “regular old” sentences and run-on sentences — I think breaking rules is good, as long as you know what they are and can use the breaking On Purpose.

    We all have to find our styles and “voices” — and if that means bucking up some rules, then I’m all for it! 😀


  3. Hey Kat – I just finished the first chapter of Tender Graces, and I must say I LOVE your style and ‘voice’. I better understand knowing what they are in terms of writing in fiction. I feel more confident now in my writing as I read your novel. I LOVE novels that explore unpleasant memories, especially ones that deal with our family.

    I can’t wait to finish reading Tender Graces!


  4. I think of grammar as a very important convention– but, like the expressions “please,” and “thank you,” still a convention. And sometimes we need to get beyond those, to keep the truth in our writing. I wouldn’t want to read a Hunter Thompson rant that had been worked over by the grammar police!


  5. To me a Healthy Living is when you eat a variaty of hehatly food most of the time, get a regular amount of exercise but still have time to relax. To have a helthy lifestyle yyou should also get adequate amount of sleep to let our body recover and grow.


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