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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

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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
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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

4 Answers 4

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

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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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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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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