Grammar Guide: Are Fragments “Cool” Now?

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Fragments. We’ve been taught that they’re evil from our very first class in school. But are they really as bad as everyone says?

Writing rules nowadays are more lax than ever. You can start a sentence with “but!” You can end a sentence with a preposition! Em dashes and commas abound all over the place!

But what about fragments? Are they okay now, too?

In all of my grammar authority (which is to say, I have none), I say: no.

It’s undoubtedly true that authors are using fragments more now than they ever have before. Unfortunately, it’s a trend I see often with indie authors, specifically – and I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of grammar error that makes me put down the book after just a few instances.

But to some, it’s apparently “cool” now to use fragments. Always where a single sentence would work fine. (See what I just did there?) From what I’ve gathered, I think that authors use it to strengthen their tone – but it really weakens their entire writing style. No one wants to read a fragment. It’s jarring and choppy, and it just sounds wrong. (The exception, of course, is when someone is speaking a fragment.)

There are lots of other ways to infuse your writing with a quick, active tone. Use short sentences. Pack them with action. Choose colourful words. Say only what’s necessary.

And there you have it.

We’ll talk more about tone on Friday, but for now, let’s avoid fragments, shall we? Just because some people think they’re cool doesn’t mean we all need to fall into the same trap.

Grammar still matters – to your readers, to agents, and to you (at least it should).

Happy writing!

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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