From this weekend’s New York Times Magazine:
Adderall wiped away the question of willpower. Now I could study all night, then run 10 miles, then breeze through that week’s New Yorker, all without pausing to consider whether I might prefer to chat with classmates or go to the movies. It was fantastic. I lost weight. That was nice, too. Though I did snap at friends, abruptly accessing huge depths of fury I wouldn’t have thought I possessed. When a roommate went home one weekend and forgot to turn off her alarm clock so that it beeped behind her locked door for 48 hours, I entirely lost control, calling her in New York to berate her. I didn’t know how long it had been since I’d slept more than five hours. Why bother?
Something may look like a complete sentence because it contains a main verb, goes on for a bit, and sports a certain amount of complexity (e.g., an embedded clause). But, as Catherine and I discuss in our book–and in those forthcoming fluency exercises that Catherine mentions below–that doesn’t make it a complete sentence. True, sentence fragments can be effective. But sometimes–as this one did for me–they lead you down the garden path to the edge of a cliff. You expected more words, and here you are at the end of a sentence, having to go back and re-read it. At which point you realize, say, that it doesn’t express one more advantage to Adderall, but rather that it brings up the first of three downsides.
Speaking of advantages and disadvantages, did you spot my sentence fragment? Did I bring you up short and confuse you?