1. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Careful wording

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Islander, Sep 12, 2010.

    How would you interpret this paragraph?

    Would you read that as

    a) He looked at her thoroughly, or
    b) He looked at her discreetly
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless she a book page with fine print, or anything else that needs to be eyed carefully or...

    c) He is performing a autopsy and eyeing her carefully.

    I think you should use thoroughly or discreetly if that is what you mean. Unless it part of the characteristic's of the man (he is a very careful man), I think you can kill that darling. It not that awesome wording.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thoroughly sounds like a security guard at an airport or bouncer at a nightclub checking ID
     
  4. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    It makes me think that "he" is suspicious of the woman for whatever reason, and is looking for anything obviously out of place in her appearance, something to confirm his suspicion.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I take it to mean he is studying her. There's no implication, in my mind, that it is discreet.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess "He studied her discreetly" or "He looked at her discreetly" would work better then.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Carefully means 'with care'--as if he is taking time to notice the details. Nothing to do with being discrete. It's the word 'proper' that is wrong. It sounds like you mean 'prim and proper'. I guess in fact you mean 'correct'.
     
  8. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    My vote would go to using discreetly. Like KP, I got the impression that he was suspicious of her, but it didn't seem to me like he was watching her covertly at all. I figured she was aware that she was being inspected.
     
  9. Horizon Noise
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    I wouldn't use an adverb at all, rather try and suggest his discreetness by having him do something else at the same time. You've given no info or background so I've no idea what that could be, or what the situation is, but something along the lines of

    He shuffled papers on his desk and studied the woman over the top of his Raybans. She was smartly dressed, elegant yet not overtly formal, and what was more her credentials checked out just fine.

    Note the replacement of 'looked' with 'was' – 'looked' suggests the possibility it's open to dispute and further investigation might actually reveal she's scruffier than a chimney sweep. Also, “proper” doesn't really mean what you think it does in this context, and “well dressed” is a bit vague.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it might be a second language issue. "Försiktigt" (Carefully in swedish) have slightly more related to discreetly then carefully is.
     
  11. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    Perhaps it's a different way of writing, but if this is for fiction or non fiction, I'd go with:

    He eyed the well dressed, proper appearing woman carefully. Her credentials also checked out.

    Instead of:

    He eyed the woman carefully. She looked well dressed and proper, and her credentials had checked out.
     
  12. xoemzox
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    xoemzox New Member

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    Personally I wouldn't use thoroughly or discreetly to describe his action, another word may work better. But the way I read the meaning of carefully was more towards the idea of a thorough inspection, not him looking in a discreet manner.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I agree.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Obviously, it is ambiguous as worded. You saw that when you asked the question. Therefore, you need to write what you mean, either bt a better choice of adverb or by an overall rewrite that shows what you mean to convey.
     
  15. KellyMichelle
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    KellyMichelle Member

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    Maybe he's doing both, He's eyeing her in a sly and discreet manner but thoroughly as in, when he get's the chance it's not a quick glance, its a full look, that's how I would picture it....maybe if he was look at her and hoping she wouldn't see he'd 'snap' his head back?

    I don't know, to me the 'She looked well dressed and proper' made it seem to me that she's been very well studied.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whoever she is have to say I imagine her with a carpet bag and an umbrella from the description.

    Can you have him peeping over the top of a newspaper etc
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm with cog on this...

    if you have to ask how it translates to readers, then it's not the best word to use there and you already know that, or you wouldn't be asking... choose a word that you have no doubts about!
     
  18. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds as if the guy was being wary like there was some sort of apprehension in his mind about the woman. But if I has to choose I would say a.

    Thank you, Charlotte, that was funny :)
     
  19. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    I want to convey that her clothing gives a responsible and capable impression, like one would dress for a job interview.

    This is the scene I'm trying to write: A Korean woman contacts the POV character for a business proposition. They discuss the matter over lunch, and when they are finished, they say their goodbyes outside the restaurant. The woman mentions that she doesn't have a car. The POV character finds this odd, and it makes him a bit uncertain of his initial impression. This causes him to check her appearance more thoroughly, and think back on what made him trust her in the first place. Finally, I want the POV character to appear just a tiny bit narrow-minded or ignorant.

    I'm thinking of writing it something like this:

     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    well its not Korean I don't drive however that is clearer to me at least. But the vibe I got off your original sentence was about right then.
     
  21. Islander
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    Yes, that's where I hoped the man's narrow-mindedness would shine through.

    Btw, what is a carpet bag? Is it what it sounds like?
     
  22. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, exactly as it sounds. It's a luggage bag that is made of a thick, carpet-like material.
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah - its a bag made from carpet. I was thinking Mary Poppins she has a carpet bag and umbrella. That is who your description made me think of.
     
  24. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    ha ha ha. I was going to say that too. It also made me think of carpetbaggers ie. politicians who traveled around quite a bit.
     
  25. Islander
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    He he :)
     

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