Does anyone else get annoyed when Word gives you the little green underline and says “fragment, consider revising”? I sure do, because sometimes I talk a long time to craft a sentence that I think is really good, and after I admire it for about one second, that green line shows up and I feel lost. Maybe Word just doesn’t understand me. I’d like to think that.
In reality, it is probably a good thing to have fragments pointed out to us as we write. When our internal editor has not caught up with our writing, it can be (grudgingly) helpful to have at least something to make us second guess our writing.
Now, as a reader, I think that I can tell when a fragment is used properly, and when it is misused. You might ask, how can a fragment ever be used properly if all they do is break every grammar rule in the book? If a writer unintentionally uses a fragment in his writing, then it’s most likely a mistake. But, I think that in certain circumstances, a fragment can be used to create a dramatic jilt or a quick end to something. When used artfully (and sparingly), I think that they can really add a lot to a text.
There is nothing worse than sitting down to read something and feeling like you are hitting a new wall every two sentences. Flow is the key to a successful story, and nothing halts it like choppy sentences. It is something that I find extremely frustrating as a reader, and I’m sure I am not alone on this. It’s like driving down a long road with stop lights every 100 feet that turn red right as you get up to them; the reader needs to gain momentum to get into the story, and having to stop at every red-lighted fragment does not make for a smooth ride or read.
There are other ways to create drama in your writing than just randomly throwing punctuation around. Do not rely too much on the period, but use your words to create your desired effect. Plus, there are so many more punctuation marks that are just waiting eagerly to show what they can do. Add variety in sentence length and punctuation, mix it up for your readers, make their reading experience interesting without being jarring. Make it seamless.
Choose your fragment use wisely, my writing friend, because they can make or break you text.