1. rycbar123
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    rycbar123 Member

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    A Question of Structure and Phrasing

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by rycbar123, Dec 16, 2014.

    Excuse the bad title pun.

    While reading A Clash of Kings, I came across this:
    It came at a time when not much was happening, so I wasn't reading every word carefully and had to reread it before it made sense. I know there are no strict rules when it comes to writing, but is this type of structure generally considered to be okay, or would it be best to avoid it no matter what?
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    I don't really understand what you're referring to specifically here. If it's about having a quote in the middle of a sentence, I suppose what matters is that it fits with what's described as happening before and after it and that the quote isn't so long that it makes the reader forget the context before he or she is done reading it. The quote used in your example is in my mind a bit too long; perhaps it would be best to not quote something that's longer than a sentence within another sentence (just my two cents).
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume that the issue is that Character A is speaking in, and is the subject of the first sentence in, in a paragraph that's from Character B's POV? (Edited to remove further comments because I decided that I disagreed with myself.)

    I don't see it as incorrect, but it can be faintly confusing.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm guessing a lot of people would rewrite it, but grammatically speaking, it's perfectly fine the way it is.
     
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you sure there is a comma, not a period, after "supplied"?

    EDIT: now I see the intended structure. This is one of those times when I am frustrated by the prevailing pattern of putting punctuation inside the quotation marks even if the punctuation is not part of the quotation.

    Damn, that is one confusing sentence. I would rephrase it with prejudice. At the very least:

    "We're not likely to find another place as strong," said Lord Mormont. "We'll carry water and make certain we are well supplied." Jon knew better than to argue.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd put a paragraph in before "Jon knew better..."

    or rewrite it:

    Jon knew better than to argue when Lord Mormont said, "We're not like to find another place as strong. We'll carry water, and make certain we are well supplied."

    After all, Jon is the subject whether the sentence talks about what Lord Mormont said or not..."In this case, Jon knew better..."
     
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  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Putting "Jon knew better than to argue" in the next paragraph is my preferred option. I do like the logical chronological flow in which Lord Mormont says something and then Jon (internally) reacts to it (by knowing better than to argue).
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    It's that first word 'When.' Why is it there? It alters the context and ill-defines the POV.
     
  9. plothog
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    It's hard to tell with an out of context sentence, but it feels like the author might have used the word "when" to indicate this sentence is part of a transition.
    If it doesn't need to be part of a transition then @daemon 's rewrite seems great to me. Otherwise something slightly different might be needed to maintain the author's intent.
     
  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    I like the original. Sure, it's a little complex, but it's an interesting way of stating it. And personally, I didn't find it confusing at all.

    We're reading out of context, but to my mind, the "When..." at the start tells me that this is past tense. It has to be there, as, regardless of whether this body of the story is written in past or present tense, this statement, with Jon as the subject, is referring to a statement that Lord Mormont made in the past.
     
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The only thing that I paused over was like for likely. But I like the split, it gives impact to -Jon knew better - by having the long delay.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Hmmm. I don't know. I think it reads just find, and I don't find it particularly confusing. During normal reading, I don't think I'd give the construction a second thought.

    In fact, I've read that book and that passage certainly didn't stand out enough to make me remember it.
     
  13. rycbar123
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    rycbar123 Member

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    Everything up to it is present tense, and if I remember correctly, so is everything after. It wasn't part of a memory or flashback.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't remember any of Clash of Kings being in present tense, or any of the entire series for that matter.
     
  15. rycbar123
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    rycbar123 Member

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    You're right, I messed up. I'm not really sure now what I meant to say there...
     
  16. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The 'when' makes it Not Guilty, but I did slightly stumbled on it the first time.
     

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