Ever notice when you’re the busiest, your life becomes fragmented in your thoughts, words and actions like never before?

Sometimes fragments aren’t good things, because they make you forgetful, jump from project to project without enough care and thought, or cause you to run right into things without realizing it. Maybe it’s with your sentences or perhaps you stub your toe into your bookshelf. (Second time this week.)

Then again, there are the times fragments are a good thing. The first time I learned this was when I freelanced humor and opinion for the San Francisco Examiner.

I wrote a piece on my sensitivity to perfume, and created a scene about what would happen if we tried to regulate it in church. In the original version, I wrote the last line as a complete sentence. I don’t recall it now, but the editor called to tell me he was cutting it to two words.

Would they hire specially trained personnel to handle the problem?
Sniff bouncers.

“Two words?” I said. “That’s a fragment. Can we do this?”

“Of course,” the editor said. “We do it for emphasis.”

This is true in writing for humor, suspense, or depth of meaning.

As you sleep, if you have a long-drawn-out dream, it may not have important meaning for you, as if you have one stark image or line of dialogue that stays with you all day.

Write down the image or sentence of your dream. Describe it or how it made you feel. How does it relate to your life now?

Ever have a fragment of thought at an odd time and you wonder where it came from? If you think about it, you’ll realize it’s a key to something else. Could be a solution to a problem you’ve been pondering. An idea for a project. But when you’re NOT thinking about it, that’s when you relax and the mysteries of your soul and the universe can work.

Reading exercise: As you read, find fragments that are there for emphasis.
Writing exercise: In your project, try your hand at a fragment for humor, suspense, or meaning.
Life exercise: Pay attention to the fragments in your life. If they aren’t good fragments, slow down and take care. If they are interesting thought fragments, write them down and see where they lead you.

More Fragments: Recent books I’ve enjoyed: The Evolution of Calpurina Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and Dear Big V by Ellen Leroe.


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