1. AuthoressM
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    AuthoressM Member

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    Bad sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by AuthoressM, Jun 28, 2008.

    After seeing them into a small candlelit room, whose walls were cloth, he bowed out and went back to his station.

    --- That ‘whose’ is bothering me. Kind of makes it sound like the room is a person…But I don’t know how to fix it. Suggestions?

    The walls are made out of cloth - the cloth is the walls. It's like a tent-ish room. You know? So, if I say cloth-covered walls, that'd be saying that there were walls behind the cloths...no? It's just a horrible sentence and a horrible idea I'm trying to get across. I don't think the surrounding context is necessary. I'm just trying to figure out a way to fix this sentence.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    Hmm that sounds like a tough one XD

    Maybe something like: Cloth fluttered in place of walls or Walls were replaced by cloth in the tent room

    Hope that helps :eek:
     
  3. Night
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    Hm, I'm assuming you're talking about a guard or something here, so I'll use that as the noun.

    The guard showed them into a candlelit room with walls that were draped with (I would put some sort of adjective here, like lavish, torn, etc.) cloth. Once we had taken our seats (Or something to that effect) the guard bowed out and left.
     
  4. Knave
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    Knave New Member

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    How about:
    After seeing them into a small candlelit room, the walls of which were cloth, he bowed out and went back to his station.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the problem is you're trying to cram too much stuff into a single sentence, when all the stuff doesn't even go together... focus first on the action and then on the setting... what do you have against useing two sentences, instead of one?... such as:

     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Please describe the cloth. Is it heavy fabric like the canvas of a tent, or maybe a thin, semi-transparent silk...or perhaps, it is rigidly stretched cotton mounted in a frame. The nature of the "fabric" will give you easier writing and a more colorful image.

    For example,

    "After seeing them into a small candlelit room, one bounded on all sides by loose hanging curtains of the finest silk, he bowed out and went back to his station."

    - or -

    "After seeing them into a small candlelit room - its walls made from sheets of canvas stretched between bamboo poles - he bowed out and went back to his station."

    - or - (reverse the order of the sentence)

    "He bowed out and went back to his station after seeing them into a small, candlelit room with walls made from curtains of flowing cotton that gently swayed in the draft."

    Any of these approaches will provide the image of being in a room with free standing cloth walls.
     
  7. WAN73D
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    WAN73D Member

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    "the walls of which were cloth"
    "its wall composed of cloth"

    Both viable solutions that don't alter your sentence structure.
     
  8. Vertz
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    Vertz Member

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    Maybe just go with "After seeing them into a small candlelit room with cloth walls he bowed out and went back to his station" for a simple answer.

    I also like Maia's suggestion. It depends on how much detail you want to include.
     
  9. Slippery
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    Slippery Contributing Member

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    I'd roll it like this. Just posting for variety.
    He saw them into a small room, where candlelight twinkled through hasty cloth walls. As the man bowed himself out and left for his station, <continue story here>
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Where is the point of view after the sentence? If the POV remains with the visitors, or soon returns to them, then describe the room after the escort returns to his station.

    The escort is undoubtedly familiar with the room, so his POV would not pay attention to the decor. The visitors have time to look around after the escort leaves, even if only a few seconds. That's the time for them to take note of the room's appearance, along with how it affects their mood. Does it reassure them? Does it make them apprehensive? Relate the appearance to them.

    Don't try to make it one sentence. As you presented it, what you have is two sentences with a comma splice - not good.
     
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  11. AuthoressM
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    AuthoressM Member

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    *laughs* You guys are funny .:-D. Thanks for all your help!

    Note to self - include surrounding context next time I post .>_<.
     
  12. cawalabe
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    cawalabe Member

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    I would simply say:

    "After seeing them into a small candlelit room where the walls were made of cloth, he bowed out and went back to his station."
     
  13. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    "He saw them to a small, candlelit room. Perhaps cloth walls weren't the best idea, but he liked the look. He bowed out, hoping he'd make it back to his station should the walls decide to ignite."

    Sorry, I was having a bit of fun with your character.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's still not a good idea to cram both the action and the description into one sentence...
     
  15. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    Nonsense. It's all a matter of her style.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Maia (again). Stuffing the action and the descriotion into the sentence results in a sentence with two disparate goals. A sentence should have one principal message, not two or three. A compound sentence will have more than one message, but they should still be related. It's not good style to carry two or more messages leading in different directions in a single sentence, and that's what you have if you jam static description in with action.

    One more thing - referring to another member's commenst as nonsense is disrespectful, and violates the rules of this site. Fair warning.
     
  17. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    Wasn't trying to be disrespectful, just citing that absolutes are nonsense, not the poster.

    Some good books to read that prove it's a matter of style:

    Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

    Shatterday, by Harlan Ellision

    Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler

    Actually, now that I think about it, read any book, and you'll find action meshed with description.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The comment referred to action and description clauses stuffed into the same sentence.
    Yes, you can use descriptive elements within action. Yes, you can have action elements in a descriptive sentence. But the sentence needs one focus.

    Next time, though, leave out dismissive words like "nonsense".
     
  19. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    Sorry, didn't really consider it disrespectful. Of course, the internet doesn't help with Intention vs. Reception.
     
  20. LitLover88
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    LitLover88 New Member

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    Well, I'd agree with Cog and NaCl, it depends on the POV of the narrator. If it is focused on the person leading "them" into the room, go with something simple. There's no need to fully describe the room, unless the narration goes back to those in the room. However, if the focus is on someone or ones in the room being described, I would go with something like NaCl's last suggestion. Reverse the order of the sentence you have and have the leader bow out of the room before going on to describe it. Like Cog said, no need for the escort to take in the surroundings; if he's already leading them there, he is more than likely familiar.
     

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