1. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Proper way to write this sentence (regarding pronoun confusion).

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by D-Doc, Nov 21, 2011.

    So, I can think of a few ways to write this sentence but all of them seem to be off.

    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, then pummeled him until his nose caved into his face." That is unclear, right?

    I wrote it this way also,
    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, then pummeled the fool until the fool's nose caved in completely."

    It's clearer but I wanted have the "nose caved into his face" bit. I also thought of writing the sentence as,

    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, then pummeled the fool's nose until it caved into his face," but that would suggest that Dislo is only pummeling his nose and nowhere else, and I don't want that.

    What do you guys think? I might just go with the second one.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, then pummeled him until the fool's nose caved in completely."
     
  3. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Ah, nice. Thanks. Now that you wrote it like that, I see where I went wrong. I could have used him right after pummel like you did because the drunk preceded it and cleared up who the pronoun was referring to.
     
  4. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I am confused by the quotations, is this dialogue?

    But anyways, I would personally write it like this and it would work as dialogue or description.

    Dislo reached into the car to pull the drunken fool out by the collar of his shirt -- he didn't stop pummeling him all over his body until his nose finally caved in.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first is too repetitive with "his", the second is too repetitive with "fool".

    This comes across sounding rather awkward to me.

    I'd suggest you go with something similar to the original sentence. It's really not that ambiguous. It's just repetitive.
    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, and then pummeled him until his nose caved in."
    Or, again, just keep it the way you had it originally. Again, it's not really ambiguous.

    ... It's not dialogue; the quotation marks show what his example is in relation to the rest of his post, and you've changed the structure of his sentence, adding in actions that weren't necessarily there.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that...

    however, 'completely' is redundant with 'caved in'... and 'caved in' is a bit odd used in re a nose being 'flattened'...
     
  7. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I am fully aware I changed the structure of the sentence. I did so because he said this: "but that would suggest that Dislo is only pummeling his nose and nowhere else, and I don't want that."

    Like I already said, this is how I would write it. It was clear he wanted examples because he felt his were "off," so I gave him my version.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wrong. It's perfectly clear because of context. The reader knows enough about the world to know that the person whose nose caves in is the person being pummelled, not the person doing the pummelling. If you were writing a legal document then you would have to remove the ambiguity, but who wants fiction that reads like a legal document. I greatly prefer your original to any of the alternatives that have been suggested so far.
     
  9. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Nice. Thanks a lot, and thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions.
    To mammia, I agree with the redundancy and I didn't really like the "completely" either. However, I based that sentence off something similar that I saw a few years ago, and the beaten man's nose didn't look flattened. It looked like there was a dark hole in his face where his nose should have been. Whether it actually caved inward or not, I have no idea. There was a lot of blood. I thought the description fit what I saw though.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought your first sentence was perfectly clear. I tend to have sentences like this in a first draft, although I expect on re-reading I'd edit to avoid using so many pronouns.
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    "Dislo reached into the car, pulled the drunk out, then pummeled him until his nose caved into his face." That is unclear, right?

    Dislo reached into the car, yanked the drunk out, pummeled him, and caved in his nose.

    I think "yanked" works better than the generic "pulled."

    Dislo charged into the car, yanked the drunk out, pummeled him, and broke his nose so severly it appeared caved in.
     
  12. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    "Dislo pulled the drunk from the car and destroyed his nose with a ruthless flurry of punches."


    There's no need to write that Dislo reached into the car. If the drunk's nose gets destroyed, there's no need to write that the punches were hard, or powerful, or mighty.............they'd have to be to destroy the nose.

    Of course, my example is just the bare bones of the possibilities:



    "You smell, you lousy creep! I'm gonna do you a favour."

    Dislo wrestled the squirming drunk from the car and floored him with a single blow to the chin.

    "You ain't gonna smell no more."

    Dislo took a deep breath, then calmly destroyed a nose with a ruthless flurry of punches.




    Here we have two uses of the word "smell", each with a different meaning...........an angry joke, in the heat of the moment. I had written:

    "....then calmly destroyed the guy's nose.....".

    I opted instead for "a nose".


    First gangster to second: "What are you doing today?"

    Second gangster: "Well, I've got two legs to break and a spine to smash. After that we can meet up for pizza."

    Very matter-of-fact.

    Ugh!
     

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