Incomplete isn't wrong, but that doesn't mean it's alright either

Your Royal Snarkiness,

When writing in first person narrative, is it okay to use incomplete sentences? I understand they are sometimes preferred in dialogue, since 99% of the world speaks that way, and it seems to me that in my book, to engage a reader with the narrator, it would help to speak casually.

I brace for the cluegun.

Yea. Well, yanno. It's not all that hard to do. Write truncated sentences I mean. Cause, you're right...well, mostly. It's how people talk. But it's not exactly how they read. And what we say with a wink and a nod, you have to convey on the page. And, the thing is, choppy can get tedious. Like vernacular. Or trying to convey an accent.

Like snarkiness, pepper flakes and punctuation, a little goes a long way.

Ok does not mean hog wild. Ya falla' me?


Anonymous said...

Interesting that you posted this. I am studying for a test and two of the words I have to remember are "holophrasic" (using a single word to communicate an entire concept, such as when Leona Helmsley shouts "fishy" at her servants) and "telegraphic speech (the sort of language children 18 to 24 months old use, which appears to be much like Leona Helmsley shouting "fishy" at her servants.)

Kit Whitfield said...

Get the narrator's voice to sound engaging, and you can do whatever you like with grammar, from Catcher in the Rye slanginess to The Remains of the Day precision. It's all about enjoyable reading.

anonahole said...

i love these "give me a one-sentence lesson in how to write that will applly universally" requests. an aesthetic sense can't be taught, much less summed up in a neat package. jeez. maybe the people who ask questions like this might try, i don't know, reading? even reading a readers digest condensed aethetic how-to like francine prose's (which, despite that seemingly excoriating description, is actually quite good).

Anonymous said...

"conveying an accent can get tedious." (paraphrasing MS)

I toad Twain he ain't no writer, but he's the hurriest feller I knows... claims he's a bonee fee'day hurricane a words.

"Ain't no feelin' seldom or tiresome writin' en readin' dis ways." Says he.

Sic 'im, Miss Snark!

Lookie dare, Snark's done took all da starch out da creases what's in his pants. Got ole' Sam hobblin' like a broke legged spider.

Haste yee back ;-)

Heidi the Hick said...

I think most of all the voice has to be authentic. You wouldn't have a granny talking like a 14 year old. We have to spend some time listening to how people really speak.

An then make em talk real good with words n stuff.