Lately,
a case of style versus aggravation has cropped up in a few pieces of work I
have viewed: the “verbless” sentence.
I am undecided as to whether authors attempting this form of style are doing so because they are trying to eliminate passive
verbs (which are not all bad, as some authors may believe) or if they are
attempting to make the dialogue and the thoughts of a character more realistic.
Granted,
using a dash of this technique provides an interesting variation, but to fold
in an entire cupful of “verbless” sentences is a distraction.
An
example of this type of structure would be utilized in a paragraph such as:
My word! No couth,
that one. None at all. Rather a viper in starlet’s clothing. A heartless
scoundrel. A gold digger.
In all truthfulness, an editor would probably
leave this paragraph alone because it definitely works to tell the reader exactly
what the character thinks of this heartless viper of a starlet. However, if the
author used this type of sentence structure throughout the manuscript, what
would then make this paragraph stand out?
In a sequence such as the one following, there isn’t
anything particularly interesting going on that needs emphasis or
style, and the lack of verbs make the thoughts tiresome:
The store? Why? Tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow.
Not today.
When an author decides to use a style technique such as verbless
sentences, her edits should include a careful perusal of the manuscript to
determine if the usages have turned from “style” to “aggravation for the
reader.”
Happy editing.

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