disgusting, eh? you should see my fiction!

At school my kid's teacher has a homework prize box. Complete the homework, get a prize. Now, I'm a bit old-school (no pun) meself, and I think a kid should get nothing for completing homework, you know, as in he won't get my hand on his backside. (Kidding. I gave up spanking a long time ago. My 8 year old is nearly as tall as me. He might hit me back.) But anyway, the kid brought home a race car yesterday.

It looks like this.
Only, my kid's box is signed by some guy named Richard Petty.
While we're on the subject of man-sports, I'm annoyed by people who bastardize profanity to make it, well, decent: F*ck, Sh!t, D%mn , that sort of thing. It's perfectly good profanity, people! Either use the word fuck properly, the way it was born to be used, or join the hold-outs who don't imbibe. Jebus, we're in danger of punctuation marks taking a place in the fucking alphabet.
Truly, and I think you'll agree, no one employs the word fuck quite like an Irishman. They have a certain flair. Must be the accent.
I do admire people who simply do not swear. I don't know if it's a choice, or if they never feel the need for a therapudic fuckityfuckfucker whilst driving, but y'all are the greatest!
We had a bit of a quibble over on Crapometer over fragments. I say: Just Don't. Phoenix, who I'd link, but she/he/it has no link, has no problem with a properly deployed fragment. I generaly respect Phoenix's crits, but on this issue we diverge. To be clear, we were talking about this in conjunction with a query. Phoenix says it's ok in business writing, queries and the like. Hmm. I really disagree with fragments in any sort of even vaguely formal writing. (Not fond of qualifiers or adverbs, either, as you see here.) I do see frags in marketing blather and I always cringe. Nothing like marketing fools (or should I say tools) to dumb down our writing. But I digress, and my main concern is fiction.
I think the properly deployed fragment is a rare bird, indeed. They've a place in dialogue, internal dialogue, or in narrative for pacing purposes, and I think it's best to limit them to five words or less. In amateur (and sometimes not so amateur) fiction, they're often structured like this:
Anna watered the flowers on the back porch. Flowers that her husband had given her.
dunh dunh dunnnnh
I understand what the writer intends to do. She want emphasis on that frag--the important bit isn't the flowers, she's saying, is that her husband gave them to her. Couple of problems. First, it's telling. Second, I bet there are several ways we can write this well, still sticking within the rules of grammar.
Some argue voice. Yeah. Voice. Really, would you have this sort of structure part of your regular voice repertoire? To me it reads like a bad blog. And unfortunately, the writer often likes this technique so much, they couple it with repetition, stacking fragments on top of each other like Romans at an orgy.
Anna watered the flowers on the back porch. Flowers that her husband had given her. Flowers that made up for his beating her.
And there's no other way to emphasise the damned flowers and what they mean? How about:
Anna wondered if watering the flowers her husband had given her meant she was accepting his apology for beating her.
Anna's husband caught her watering the flowers. "Ah," he said. "You accept my apology, then."
She nodded, but two days had gone by and the bruise he'd left on her face had turned an ugly purple. She gripped the watering can so tightly her knuckles whitened.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but exceptions, be definition, must be occassional occurrances, or they are no longer exceptions and the rule is no longer a rule. In my experience, if someone uses a fragment, they do it so often that they quickly lose whatever power they might have had. Use fragments in a query at high risk. If you rely on such a weak device in your query, I'd think most agents might wonder how often it appears in your book at the expence of solid writing.
That said, you're all way smarter than me. Agree? Disagree? Or just lurking.
later: fucking blogger won't let me add return spaces. sorry this is so crammed. we here at sex scenes are working diligently to fix the problem.

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