1. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    Clearing up Dangling Modifiers!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jeredin, May 1, 2009.

    Alright, I've written something and I like the way that it flows, but the rules of dangling modifiers says I should revise.

    This is from a conversation between a male and a female. Here's the version I like, which takes place after the male answers her question:


    Satisfied, she returned to her silent trek.

    or I like,

    Satisfied with his answer, she returned to her silent trek.

    Yet dangling modifier says it should look like this?

    She was satisfied with his answer, so she returned to her silent trek.


    Everything I do to fix the dangling modifier just makes it sound wrong or feel unnatural to me. I think it should be clear who's satisfied with his answer, so must I always put the doer with the action when it's already clear from what's been happening? I would really like it if someone could help me with this. Thanks.

    EDIT: After reading some, it looks as though this might work: Satisfied with his answer she returned to her silent trek.
    By getting rid of the comma the doer is closer to the action?
     
  2. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    I don't know what a dangling modifier is but the two you proposed sound fine with me. The first one could be a bit odd depending on the prior text, but with the second one, even if you didn't tell me about the conversation, I could tell exactly what the sentence meant.

    The last one just sounds terrible!
     
  3. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    I agree, but from what I've learned about dangling modifiers, the doer and the action should be together. Even though they might be in the same sentence, a comma counts (if would seem) as separation nd causes it to "dangle". :confused:

    This is what I get for to clean up my writing. ;)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is nothing wrong with this. The full modifier is Satisfied with his answer, and it attaches to the pronoun she.

    The dangling version would be:
    It dangles beccause it appears to be modifyig trek, and that is clearly not the intended meaning.

    In this case, the intended meaning is still pretty clear, so the dangling modifier is not as horrible as it could be. But your version is still preferable.
     
  5. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    See? This is a big problem Right. Here.

    For me, I mean.

    The way I talk, the way I was brought up - I would've written that sentence the wrong way. "She returned to her silent trek, satisfied with his answer."

    That sounds fine to me. It sounds almost poetic, it's very gentle and very, well, southern. Like how I talk.

    The correct version sounds good, too. But my "voice" would have written it the wrong way, apparently. I don't have a clue what modifiers are, or hanging ones at that. I write like I think, and I'm no brainiac, though I can tell a good story.

    This is why I'm stressing about editing my story. *sigh* I'm so screwed.
     
  6. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Keep in mind, the rule of dangling things are different from natural dialog to author narrative. It may help to keep this in mind when reviewing your work.
     
  7. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    Dcoin is right. When your writing dialogue, you have more freedom with how you want to write. But descriptions of things and what they're doing have more rules to follow.

    As I self edit my work, I've learned a lot and has overall helped my story flow better. In the end, if I improving is great and it gets me closer to being published. :D
     
  8. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    Thanks!

    Thank you for your help. :)
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Jeredin the examples you gave are good. The first one is an introductory word followed by an independent clause. The second one is an introductory phrase followed by an independent clause.

    When a sentence starts with an independent clause followed by a phrase, like Cog's example, is when it is easy to have a dangling modifier.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    any of those examples would be ok in creative writing... remember that when you're writing a story, it's not a term paper in english class, that you'll be graded on...

    the creative writer has a lot more freedom to bend [and yes, even break!] some rules of perfect grammar, if such a 'sin' is necessary 'for effect' or just to stay 'in character' or maintain your 'voice'...

    as long as it reads well, can be easily understood by the readers, and makes sense, do what your 'voice' feels is best...
     
  11. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    Rules are ment to be broken! >.>

    Thank you everyone. Your knowledge and advice helps me greatly. :)

    I think I've been learning so much about writing lately, that I've been trying to write everything as if it was all mathematical formula. I have to remember that it's just as much an art. :D
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it's ALL art!... there should be no 'formula' applied to creative writing... that would negate the 'creative' factor, wouldn't it?

    art is the antithesis of mathematics [science]... unlike the sciences, the arts do not have to be 'proven'... artistic creators are free to put forth whatever they can imagine, and the results only need to be enjoyed by their viewers/readers... mathemeticians, on the other hand, are limited by the fact that 2 + 2 will always = 4 and thus, to only what can be proven by mathematical formulae...

    so, if you want to be a successful writer, you must free yourself from the need to find numerical precision in the use of words... it's not a matter of doing so being impossible as much as that if you do, you will lose the 'magic' of language...
     
  13. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    By no means. In fact, it's kind of hard to distinguish between "formulae" and things like "genre" or "format" or "form".

    And artists have found for years that such "cabinets" can be very liberating for the creative imagination.

    You see this all the time on television, bright writing within a completely locked set of characters and situations. Poets wrote in forms for millenia...and still do sonnets and sestinas and haiku and such.

    Compare the loving detail and artistry of European cathedrals to the ostentation of contemporary urban structures that clambor for attention and create only ennui.

    The idea that a formal set is bad for creativity is mistaken: the evidence for that lies all around us.
     
  14. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    Actually, that is a proper sentence. Altering the order of the clauses doesn't shift the referent.

    A dangler would be like, "Satisfied with his answer, her trek was silent."

    And things like DO get noticed by more than just English doyens. There is a psychic speedbump with mislaid modifiers.

    Sentence fragments aren't a problem, but shifting the action of the sentence around like that loses the sense of what's being said.
     
  15. Jeredin
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    Jeredin Member

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    Thx W_W <---kinda like a smiley face . . . Get it, Wrong_Writer? :D
     
  16. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    Hmmmm. Looks like a clown face for some reason.

    Think it might catch on?
     

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