The Stories Begun

{February 22, 2011}   Ands aren’t insects, buts aren’t for chairs, and fragments do *not* need to be fixed!

Conjunctions and fragments: I like ’em!

I know, I know . . . I acknowledge that they’re improper grammar.  I know I begin far too many sentences with conjunctions.  I know I use the fragment for emphasis, even though I’m not “supposed” to.

So what?  Conjunctions are fantastic! They’re beautiful little words that connect several thoughts without losing pace.  They establish several types of connections and contrasts!  Conjunctions make the world go ’round with coordination and clarity!

However, to make my professors happy (as well as attempt some semblance of grammatical propriety), I’m working on the conjunction inundation, though I’m sure I’ll never give up fragments.  If conjunctions are fantastic, fragments are awesome!

Fragments don’t just express a partial thought, they require someone to stop and consider the thought.  The reader has to work to find and establish the context on their own!  Fragments cause the reader to think.  Fragments are disruptive.  And that’s a good thing.

I’ll admit, as writing flaws go, I’m pretty comfy with mine.  Why?  Because that’s the way I’ve observed communication to function.  People finish thoughts, then feel that there are things to add.  Or, they purposely end a sentence before picking up the next one with a conjunction for emphasis.  Fragments that begin with conjunctions are fairly common because that’s an easy way to a) emphasize! and b) to associate the emphasis with the correct event.

When telling a story from first person, adding touches like these is vital.  I–as an author–cannot rely on proper grammar to do my work for me.  To quote Some Like It Hot: “Nobody talks like that!!”  Internal dialogue is especially fragmented and interconnected with ridiculous amounts of primary conjunctions.

Now, is this exceptionally smart?  Not really.  Most people can pull these tricks of emphasis off with little effort . . . which is why they’re so good! Using common, everyday modes of speech in dialogue is the exact way to appeal to an audience.  Simplicity is not a bad thing.

Simple fixes extend to craft as well.  The first thing I do when I’m stuck in a scene is talk it out.  The easier it is for me to narrate any given scene, the easier it is for any audience to access the writing from their position as readers.  I adore books that I can “hear” in my head.  There’s no reason not to set that same standard to myself.

But, to bring this back to regular ol’ buts, learn to use conjunctions appropriately.  Sure, it’s easy to over-use the primary conjunction, to fall into the trap of trying to connect every sentence to the previous one.  Readers are pretty smart.  They’ll make connections you’ll never dream of.  Right now, just worry about using conjunctions and fragments at the right time, maybe even using them together.

Have fun connecting and fragmenting!



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