1. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1

    Is a SINGLE damn thing in this right?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Dave Gregory, Jul 1, 2015.

    Right, I'm trying to build a sentence of dialogue, uttered by one of my characters with - well - an idiosyncratic way of speaking.

    Here's what he says:

    “Well now, presumably, Kiddo, the future you — to whom he’s talking — knows the precise date and time that it all happens. Should we not be asking him this? Makes sense really.”

    This fella' speaks with exactly Michael Caine's voice, and is inclined to embellish his sentences with rather 'arty' turns of phrase, if that's any help.

    Can I get away with this sentence, would you say, or is it a nightmare to read? And is 'whom' correct here? I'd like to use it because the character would put it in if it's correct to do so. But is 'the future you' the object or subject here?

    Gah!
     
  2. Stacy C
    Offline

    Stacy C Banned

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    127
    Location:
    Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
    Sorry, but I don't understand the sentence at all. The Michael Caine guy is speaking to whom (which is correct)? Maybe if you rewrite the sentence as spoken by a regular guy for our benefit?
     
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    I'm not clear on who "he" is, but I assume that would be clear from context?

    It took me a few times to figure this out, as is, but I think it might be okay in context. Hard to be sure.
     
  4. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,505
    Likes Received:
    1,339
    I take it you're going for the Michael Caine with a cockney accent, rather than the Michael Caine with the clipped upper-class accent he had in Zulu?

    1/ The future you is the subject, so really it should be who he's talking to.
    2/ However, to whom he's talking is the kind of pretentious grammar that might be affected by somebody given to arty turns of phrase, and it's the sort of thing that he'd get wrong because he just uses whom because it's not something that would be used by somebody from a council estate.

    So, depends on the character you're writing - you can get away with anything in dialogue, it just reflects on how educated your character is. I'd suggest that somebody who would end a paragraph with Makes sense really and is given to arty turns of phrase would also be pretentious enough, and ill-educated enough, to say exactly that sentence.
     
    Dave Gregory likes this.
  5. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    I feel like it should be "whom" because it's connect to the "he's talking" phrase - "to whom he's talking" = "he's talking to whom". It's hard to really be clear because the sentence is so convoluted...
     
  6. AlcoholicWolf
    Offline

    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Moldova
    It would be helpful to have a little more context, but so far the only thing I would change would be "well now..." elipses instead of the comma. Better for flow.

    I think I understand the sentence. "to whom" is referring to the "future self" and obviously we're discussing someone who hasn't been mentioned elsewhere. Someone is talking to kiddo's future self, and that someone knows the date and time and Michael Caine and kiddo need to be asking him. Right?

    You might want to put - to whom he's talking - in brackets, actually.

     
  7. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    I'm not sure who they should be asking, though - future self, or the guy talking to future self.
     
  8. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    not got a clue what that sentence's trying to say... :superconfused:
     
  9. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,505
    Likes Received:
    1,339
    If we strip away the excess, the sentence reads "The future you knows the precise date and time."

    That makes the future you the subject.

    The sub-clause to whom he's talking is giving us additional, non-essential, information about the future you. (I think I'd prefer the sub-clause within commas rather than dashes, but that's another matter) That makes he an object. But whom is referring to the future you, the subject, so it should be who he's talking to (to who he's talking is, I think, correct but horrible).

    But, in the context of a pretentious git, it sounds just what he'd say.
     
  10. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    Subject/object is determined on a whole-sentence basis, not on the individual phrase? I didn't know that...
     
  11. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    First of all, I'd switch 'Kiddo' and 'presumably' around. 'Well now, Kiddy. Presumably ...'

    'To whom he's talking' in em dashes is not ideal for dialogue, because people will read it as part of the dialogue and not as a reference.

    The sentence might work better like this:

    'Well now, kiddo. Presumably, the future for you,' To whom he's talking, 'knows the precise date and time that it happens. Should we not be asking this? It makes sense, really.'
     
  12. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    Wow, you changed the meaning of that sentence quite a bit, at least from how I'm interpreting it...
     
  13. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    Aha ..... Yes, without knowing the context, it does seem really hard to make it out..... Ok - here's the line in context of the rest of the conversation (they are talking about Chris Pelham - 'Pelsey' - who claims to be communicating in his head with a version of Denny who is two years in the future):

    Denny looked skywards, squinting: “Still not hearing anything?”

    “Nah,” said Colin, “but no news is good news, I suppose…”

    “To be honest, we need every extra day,” said Denny, “Pelsey reckons that once those TV transmissions start coming back in, the world starts going apeshit pretty fast.”

    “Well now, presumably, Kiddo, the future you — to whom he’s talking — knows the precise date and time that it all happens. Should we not be asking him this? Makes sense really.”

    Denny sighed and raised his eyebrows: “Yeah well, unfortunately, Chris ain’t making much sense lately — if you can pin the fucker down, Col’, you go right ahead and ask him, but Gav thinks he’s gone off his rocker.”​
     
  14. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    No, that is actually part of what he says, but thank you - the way you've structured it works pretty well if I rebuild it as:

    "Well now, kiddo. Presumably, the future you, to whom he's talking, knows the precise date and time that it happens. Should we not be asking this? It makes sense, really."
     
  15. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    No, it needs to be correct grammar - he's good with words; his affectations are just.... His 'thing'....

    So I might opt for 'who' then. Thanks.
     
  16. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    In that case you could probably get away with commas or em dashes. The sentence itself is a bit of a brain bender.
     
  17. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    Ah, actually, I just figured out how the sentence is conveyed, and yes, em dashes would work better than commas. :superagree:
     
    Dave Gregory likes this.
  18. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hah! Love your signature pic, @Stacy C. I still play that game for hours even now.
     
  19. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,505
    Likes Received:
    1,339
    Having seen @BayView 's post, I'm not so sure I'm right.

    It's what I'd write...no, it's the way I'd write that, but I'd probably reword the whole thing to avoid getting my subjects and objects in a twist.
     
  20. Justin Rocket 2
    Offline

    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    194
    In my opinion, there's only three kinds of people who speak proper English; people who attended finishing school, foreigners who learned English in a classroom, and artsy pretentious asses.

    I found the original quote entirely intelligible.
     
    Dave Gregory likes this.
  21. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    There isn't really such thing as proper English, especially not to an Englishman. Foreigners and scholars study 'Oxford' English, but that's really just a standard for people to learn from. If you travelled around England, though, and despite using the same fundamental, the dialects would change quite dramatically.

    What you look for in writing, however, is an articulate sentence.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Not sure what the problem is, I understood this, and yes, the em dashes make it more clear than commas. If one were reading along, it would likely be more apparent what "the future you — to whom he’s talking — knows" was referring to.

    I might drop a couple words, preserving the character's voice but making the reading flow a bit more.

    Well now, presumably, Kiddo, the future you — to whom he’s talking — knows the precise date and time that it all happens. Should we not be asking [ask] him this? Makes sense really.”

    Or, if you want to preserve 'be asking':
    Should we not be asking him this?
     
  23. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    862
    Likes Received:
    953
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I understood it on first read, but ... Hm. Honestly within the context of your story, with the time travel and character voices already established, I feel like it'd be fine. But again, I didn't struggle with it at all without context, so I may not be the best help.
     
  24. Justin Rocket 2
    Offline

    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    194
    I disagree. What I look for in storytelling is a dramatic sentence. It is quite possible to be inarticulate and dramatic (perhaps portraying a character who has become so angry that he's just spurting or a foreigner who lacks the language mastery to explain that her child was abducted five minutes ago).
     
  25. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    You kind of miss the point. Articulate doesn't mean elegant, it means done right.

    Some art looks like someone squatted over a canvas and curled one out, but it's still articulate.
     

Share This Page