1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Cannot get this sentence right

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tenderiser, Aug 19, 2015.

    I wasn't sure where to post this so I hope this is the right place. It's also only a single sentence so I hope I'm not breaking the two-week-til-a-critique rule!

    I think I have been writing too much today because I just can't get this sentence right, no matter how much I re-arrange it:

    Absorbed in her writing, she didn’t realise James, the manager, had come out of his office until he coughed, the sound coming from right in front of her.

    I feel there are too many commas and it just doesn't flow (or have I been reading too long today?) I want to say his name as well as qualify that he's the manager, because the previous paragraph refers to "the manager" and, since he's about to talk, I just want to call him James from then on. Introducing his name in the first paragraph results in exactly the same problem.

    Ideas?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    How much of that information is already known by the reader? Do they know who James is, that he is her manager, etc?

    Maybe:

    Absorbed in her writing, she didn't notice James, her manager, until he coughed right in front of her.

    If the reader already knows the James is the manager, then you can tighten it further, assuming that's the goal here.
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh my gosh. So simple, thank you! Definitely time to call it a day for the night [another terrible sentence.]

    This is in the first chapter so we know nothing at all. Also a lesson for me: stop pausing in the middle of a novel to work on the first chapter.
     
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  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    [Name] was so absorbed in her writing she didn't realise the manager was even standing there until he coughed.

    Then go on to use his name in the following dialogue.
     
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  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The least I can do for someone with a Rik Mayall avatar :)
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @OurJud I had something like that version as one of my edits, but I didn't like referring to him as "the manager" twice in a row and then switching to James. It feels like "James, the manager" should be there to link them so the reader doesn't think "huh, who's James? Oh right, he must be the manager."

    I appreciate it's hard to say if that's an issue without seeing the preceding and following paragraphs.

    @Steerpike Can you believe it's been over a year since he died?
     
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  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I know, I was quite sad. Went back and watched a bunch of Young Ones episodes that evening.
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I was going to go to his memorial bench - I work a few miles away - but I was too tired after work. I did watch a lot of Bottom though.
     
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  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'll have to come to the UK and visit it :)
     
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  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    :agreed: That's awesome! It's good to know his brand of comedy was appreciated over the pond.

    The last time I was in London I happened to be in Hammersmith, so I dragged my girlfriend there to see it. I actually got quite emotional, which is quite bizarre for me!
     
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