Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.
Sometimes us writers become a little stylistic. We get addictions. We might fall in love with the ellipses or certain words. Or, we might forget things like what a comma splice is or—gasp—what a sentence is.
Yes, I said it.
Sometimes writers forget what it is to make an awesome sentence. So we’re here to quickly tell you.
LET ME SET THE MOOD.
A good sentence brings the reader into the story and grounds them or gives them information or makes them feel. It doesn’t confuse them. It shows emotion and makes the reader feel sometimes. It creates an image for your reader to imagine via detail.
YOU COMPLETE ME.
A good sentence is complete. What does that mean? It means it isn’t a fragment, but it has a subject and a verb in it and that subject and verb combine to make a thought. In grammarian fancy language we call that complete thought an indepenendent clause.
It’s independent because it can stand all by itself like a mighty sentence. It’s not broken with its leg in a cast and has to have crutches and lean onto other thoughts.
A good sentence doesn’t need other sentences to complete it like an annoying character in a rom-com.
So a sentence fragment is an addictive little poop and it is broken or fragmented because it doesn’t have a subject (what the sentence is about), a verb (what the subject of the sentence is doing) or a complete thought.
Here is an example of a fragment that isn’t a complete thought:
Although Big Foot sits.
Wait. What? We don’t know what happens although Big Foot is sitting, right?
Here is a sentence:
Although Big Foots sits on top of the garbage disposal, nobody can get a good photo of him.
Here is an example of a fragment with no verb
Smelly Big Foot, sexy Big Foot.
Here’s an example of a fragment with no noun
Running through the YMCA like he was human and not 8 feet tall and naked.
Fragments can be fun to throw in your story once in a while for impact, but too many and you just stop making sense.
IT MAKES SENSE.
We are not all James Joyce. We do not need to replicate Ulysses, his novel of massive sentences that are all contortionists. A good sentence makes sense and doesn’t make our readers’ brains hitch up.
Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.
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