I've been finding more and more of these types of constructions in published fiction, and it really bugs me. There's nothing gramatically wrong with it, but it's just poor form, in my opinion. ESPECIALLY in a first-person narrative. People just don't talk or think that way. At least I don't.
Am I crazy? Do these types of constructions get on anybody else's nerves?
Would Hemingway begin a sentence with a dependent clause?
Most professional writers were trained out of a book, The Elements of Style. Many of these taboos are included, though "style" leaves room for doing what you want when you want. But I think young writers who ignor EB White are doing themselves a great disservice.
Like adverbs, passive voice, limited POV's, "head hopping" and all the other moronic taboos, they end up getting repeated and pop up elsewhere, where wannabes want to be cool and superior. And young writers read them, kvetch over them, and pass them on.
How is it "moronic" to pass on tips about improving technique? Why wouldn't young writers want to make their prose stronger?
To me, if we're going to talk about writing, it's legitimate to talk about the language itself and how it's presented. Otherwise, we might as well go back to communicating with drawings on the walls of caves.
Do you guys have any idea how unutterably silly it is to get this vehement about what is essentially a difference in opinion? No one's changing anyone's mind here. Just agree to disagree and let it drop, huh?
Just for the record, I don't have a problem with sentences that begin with dependent clauses, as long as they're good sentences, and as long as the construction isn't overused--but I'd say that about almost any sentence structure that wasn't simple declarative.
The more I think about it, Jon, the more--for me--it's a point of view issue. In first and limited third, it just seems really strange for a character to present his/her story with those types of constructions. It's too...writerly, if you will, calling attention to itself and pulling the reader--this reader, at least--out of the story.
But, like I said, I do see it a lot in published fiction, so it obviously isn't bothersome to a lot of editors.
Buffeted by the swirling winds of baroque self-gratification, I was pleased to find Jude's succinct comment above. Brief though it may be, it sums up the crux of the argument. Regarding dependent clauses, their placement relative to the rest of the sentence is largely dependent on the style and flow--dare I say voice?--the author wishes to convey. It has been said, possibly in Strunk and White, that the writer's primary mission is to give the reader a fighting chance to figure out what the hell the writer is talking about. (As is common in such discussions, I have paraphrased.) How this clarity is conveyed is up to the individual writer, but anything that strikes the reader as a purely authorial intrusion will remove the reader from the vivid ficitonal dream all writers strive to create. Also, as can be seen here, too many dependent clauses used to begin sentences can get to be a real pain in the ass.