There was a post last week on Edit Torrent about sentence fragments,here. Alicia, one of the editors who blogs over there, isn't a big fan of fragments. Since I'm guilty of using a fair number of them, and feel it's part of my conversational first-person style, I paid attention to what she was saying in case I was getting something horribly wrong. My conclusion at the end wasn't that I need to go through everything I've ever written and remove all sentence fragments, but the post reinforced my compulsion to do something I was doing anyway – going through and asking if each fragment helps or not. Just saying, "Well, my voice likes fragment," isn't enough.
Below I'm putting some exercises I did based on two sentences Alicia gave. She wrote as an example of a fragment that probably wasn't needed, “He headed for the door. Which was closed.” My first instinct was the I could work with that, so I wrote a few snippets based on it.
I think these blurbs show the difference in my character voices. Some of them use fragments. Some don't. And, yes, that's part of the voice. That's not the only difference between them though. Placed in the same situation, walking to a closed door, each girl has a different reaction. And, yes, one of then was comfortable with Alicia's fragment...
Drew (from Shadow) -
I head to the door. Which is closed. Naturally. Because why would the universe allow the door to be open when it could so easily mess with me just by closing it? Hell, what am I talking about? Universes don't close doors, people close doors. And I bet I know who did it too. Cooper Finnegan.
Poor Finn. He may well have shut the door, but it probably had nothing to do with annoying Drew, who's a ghost and can't open most doors. He was probably trying to keep the ferrets safe or something. Though I could be wrong, couldn't really blame the guy.
Michaela (from Werestory) -
I trot toward the closed door. How am I going to open it without shifting into human form? Too bad it doesn't have a pet flap.
Unlike Drew, Mike notes the door's closed before she's trying to go through it. It's not that Drew couldn't see the door was shut before walking to it, it's just that it wasn't important to her before then. Mike thinks ahead more than Drew does. I think that's part of why I sometimes worry that Mike's a little boring. She isn't really, it's just that she's so much more subdued than Drew is.
Lucia (from Imagine) -
I head over to the door. Which is locked shut. Lovely. Annoyed, I sit down and wait for someone to come open it. It isn't long before the door clicks open, thanks to hastily imagined stick figure holding a key.
Hmm... Yeah. I did say the story had problems.
Althea (from High Sorcery) -
The door's closed. Assuming it's really there. I walk over and lay a hand against the wood. If it's an illusion, it's a good one.
It surprised me she thought the door might be fake. I guess she was thinking there was something weird going on, what with her not remembering how she got into this room in the first place. Al lives in the sorcerer story, which is going to be re-written almost entirely soon. Being whisked to an imaginary room with an illusion of a door in it is the sort of thing that would happen to her.
Joanna (from Succubus)-
The door's shut. Pretty sure it's locked too. I go to the window and try to judge whether it's safe to jump or if I'd wind up splattered on the ground.
Screw the door! I don't need no stinking door! Oddly enough, she doesn't. She can walk through walls. It's just so well ingrained in her that she can't do that lest someone notice that she's considering leaping from a second floor window rather than just walking out of the room.
Maggie (from Faerie Story) -
I head to the door, but the knob doesn't turn when I try to open it. Damn. With a deep breath, I hold my hand out and focus my thoughts on imagining the key in my hand. There's a faint tingle as it appears in my palm. I undo the lock, then send the key back to wherever it was in the hopes no one noticed its brief disappearance.
She probably could have walked through the door too. Or thought herself on the other side of it. But that wouldn't have unlocked the door and she was apparently more concerned with that than with leaving the room she was locked in.
Kyra (from Earth and Fire) -
I head to the door. It's locked, but it doesn't stay that way long. It takes me about a second to convince the metal in the bolt to open itself for me.
Apparently Earth Dragons make good thieves. Go figure.
Terra (from Vampires of Summit County) -
The door's closed and the knob doesn't budge when I try it. Sigh. Probably just as well, I doubt I want to see whoever's on the other side anyway. I drag my phone from my pocket and type a message to Ian, telling him I'm going to be late for gaming tonight, might even miss it altogether.
This message is important. Bad things will likely happen to her character while Ian is NPCing her, but worse things would happen if Terra simply failed to show up. Terra will likely start worrying about herself now, will realize she has GPS on her phone, and will figure out where she is. She may pass that on to Ian as well, although I imagine he'll have already tracked her by then trying to tell if she's gotten herself in trouble or if she's just blowing the game off.
Andy (me) -
I frown at the door as I pull out my phone. Loading Ubertwitter, I type out a tweet. “Am in a strange room with a locked door. No idea how I got here. WTF?"
Anyone else want to play?