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I have written these two sentences:

Despite her temper, I loved her still.

Or perhaps not despite; perhaps because of.

The second sentence feels grammatically incorrect; how can I revise this to be less awkward-sounding yet still punchy? (The thought continues in the rest of the paragraph, explaining his feelings in more depth; this is the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another.)

Edit: I came back to the paragraph to give context, decided I didn't like the way it flowed into the next sentence, and ended up changing it entirely: "Or perhaps not despite; that would imply I saw it as a flaw." C'est la first editing pass.

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closed as too localized by Standback Jun 7 '12 at 6:29

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As a writer of fiction, you have enormous license to arrange words in the ways that you hope will affect the reader. I see nothing wrong with your first two sentences: it's the way people speak, after all. – Pete Wilson Jan 29 '12 at 18:43
@PeteWilson Sure, but it sounded wrong to my ear, discordant somehow. – Yamikuronue Jan 30 '12 at 14:37
Retro-closing as per meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/535/… - this used to be accepted as on-topic, but no longer. – Standback Jun 7 '12 at 6:29
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The second sentence feels grammatically incorrect because it's not a sentence; it's two fragments joined by a semicolon. That doesn't make it wrong, but that's probably why you're reacting that way.

If you want to keep the fragment style, I would tweak it thus:

Or perhaps not despite -- perhaps because of.

I made two changes there. First, I emphasized "because of", since that's the key insight that (I assume) you'll build out in the sentences to follow. The other is that I replaced the semicolon with a dash; a semicolon puts up more of a "barrier" between the clauses (like that one I just used), while a dash is more flexible. In this case the dash suggests a thought sequence, which seems to fit with what you're trying to do. (If you want to suggest a more gradual, contemplative process, instead of a dash you could use an ellipsis -- the first thought "trails off" to be replaced by the second.)

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I'd use the M-dash too, although I don't know if "because of" needs to be emphasized so much. I'd have to see the lines in context. – Lauren Ipsum Jan 27 '12 at 16:35

The topic seems informal to me, and lends itself nicely to a more personal, less formal tone. I'm okay with it being not strictly grammatical.

Given that, consider a version that is even less grammatical and more informal:

Or perhaps not despite. Perhaps because of.

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Would you really want it in one pseudo-sentence? When it's not quite a sentence as such, why not have two for the right effect?

Despite her temper, I loved her still. Or perhaps not despite. Perhaps because of.

Leave some grammar out for the reader's imagination. Even a mark of interrogation showing a sense of 'I really wonder if it is ...' should be nice, I suppose.

Perhaps because of?

Or, would that be superfluous with perhaps? Perhaps.

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Despite her temper, I loved her still.

Perhaps ...because of it.

This may be a bit too terse for your character, but it adds impact by being more direct. Without the direct reference to the sentence above, it becomes like an idea that occurs/emerges from the first one.

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