Fragmentary Pace Changes lead us 'round and 'round

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Narrative Pace: the manner in which an author tells a story, speeding up or slowing down some parts, and omitting others altogether. (Hamilton, pg. 170)

Sentence Fragments: a sentence that is so punctuated but that lacks either a subject, a predicate, or both. (Hamilton, pg. 185)

Who out there hasn't read a book or literary work and burst out, "What just happened?! One minute I reading something that occurred ten years ago, then it switched to the events of the day before!" This response often raises one's blood pressure in addition to upping the stress level of the reader. I've been told by some would-be readers that they gave up on trying to read a specific item because they were unable to understand the flow or pace of events in the book. I'll admit to having read a few confusing bits of information as well, but if you think on the reasons why the author wrote in such a manner, then it might just get a little bit clearer. Even if a book flops around from past to future to present, there's always a reason as for why the author included this chunk of information here instead of there.

Now, one can be almost sure that everyone was told at some point in their young lives that writing sentence fragments was wrong (not to mention just plain bad writing). However, people don't always speak in entire sentences or even grammatically correct or proper English sentences! So what's an author to do when they wish to write a realistic dialogue? Throw most of their lessons out the window and start penciling out fragments! Such is the way of life and the flow of conversation. Here's another dare: Count the number of times that you speak a sentence fragment.

"Yeppers. She's done fer," sighed Billy. "Who is?" asked Jimmy. "That train there that went up the hill, down the hill, and ended at the bottom. Came with a big BOOM too!"

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3 Comments

Angela Palumbo said:

The narrator pace, flashbacks and flashforwards that you addressed remind me of the T.V. show Lost. The point of view is constantly shifting from present to past to future. Nobody really knows what's going on. I don't even watch the show but from the few episodes I've caught, it's very intruiging and everything is done for a reason. It manages to keep the viewers guessing! When they are given one tidbit of information, they are introduced to a new problem. It I had more time, I'd definately watch Lost!

Like you, Angela, I don't watch Lost regularly, but I have explored some of the fan web sites, because I'm interested in how the fans have tried to make sense of the details in the series, because it SHOWS through precise snippets of important scenes, which the reader has to fit together in order to make sense of them all. It's a series that rewards close attention -- the more you think about it and analyze it, the more sense it makes.

Tiffany Gilbert said:

Ohh! I wrote my blog about in medias res...starting in the middle. I compared that to Lost as well...because of the flashbacks and flashforwards. Does that apply to what I am trying to say? I thought it did because you're not quite sure what is going on, because you're not given past or future info.

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This page contains a single entry by MadelynGillespie published on April 7, 2008 4:48 PM.

Round and round the bend we go, to higher education we know! was the previous entry in this blog.

They're Shootin' Blanks?! is the next entry in this blog.

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