How many sentence fragments do professional writers use?

Excerpt from “A Fresh Look at Sentence Fragments” by Edgar H. Schuster”:

Sentence fragments have long been a form that most teachers try to eradicate from student writing. However well intentioned this may be, does it help students become better writers of nonfiction? Partly to answer this question, I examined the fifty essays reprinted in The Best American Essays 2001 (Norris and Atwan) and The Best American Essays, 2003 (Fadiman and Atwan).

It was exciting to observe the range of the syntactic resources these writers called on and used effectively. They include some things we English teachers commonly teach against, such as comma splices, single-sentence paragraphs, even occasional rambling sentences. But what struck me far more forcefully was the extent to which these essayists used sentence fragments. At the outset, it should be said that the backbone of virtually every essay in these collections is the complete, well-formed English sentence. Nevertheless, I found 505 sentence fragments in the fifty essays.

Schuster, Edgar H. “A Fresh Look at Sentence Fragments.” The English Journal 95.5 (2006). Print. (78-83).

Bird by bird

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott