1. varsh
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    varsh New Member

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    Sentence construction - Subject Verb

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by varsh, Oct 13, 2008.

    The following is an excerpt from a short story that i wrote... i could not jelp putting in so many verbs in this paragraph, and this trend is writ largely all over my story... I think this reads yucky, he did this, i did that, and so on it goes all the time...how best to handle this situation?

    'The chill wind seeped inside my body and I embraced myself instinctively. The office gates were locked and that was a sign that the office was empty. Keeping an eye on the church gate, I tip-toed and hid behind a car that was street parked in front of the office.
    Bose came out of the gate, stretching his hands above his head and letting out a yawn. It was 7:15, but the only visibility was due to the one or two street lights that splashed bright orange light onto the road surface. 'Go go go,' I whispered as I willed Bose to leave. By this time, I had bitten off a considerable portion of my right thumb nail.
    As if on cue, Bose looked at his own watch and there was a fleeting look of alarm on his face. He soon regained composure, folded up his lungi* with both hands , tucked them into his waist line, and left the place whistling. I sat there gulping in sticky strands of saliva, wiping the sweat off my brow despite the cold evening. In the distance, I could faintly hear the stray automobile rushing past but apart from that and my breathing, the place was dead calm. Then came the wail, like a woman crying out loud or maybe a cat that was in immense pain or fear ….'
     
  2. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    Here's how I would edit these paragraphs. Please don't take this personally--you DID ask, and I'm just givin ya what you asked for.

    The chill wind seeped inside my body and I embraced myself instinctively. The office gates were locked and that was a sign that the office was empty. Keeping an eye on the church gate, I tip-toed and hid behind a car that was street parked in front of the office.

    I embraced myself as the chill seeped into my body. The office gates were locked, meaning that the office was empty. Keeping an eye on the church gate, I snuck forward to hide behind a car parked in front of the office.

    NOTE: The setting is a bit hard to figure out. You might want to think about inserting a sentence or two to explain the thing about the "church gate" in between "body" and "the office". Doesn't have to be much--the protagonist can just briefly describe the buildings in the vicinity. Also, real thugs never "tiptoe" unless they're playing with kids. If he's out in a public area where there's some chance he's going to be seen, then he's going to move at a regular speed and not tiptoeing.

    Bose came out of the gate, stretching his hands above his head and letting out a yawn. It was 7:15, but the only visibility was due to the one or two street lights that splashed bright orange light onto the road surface. 'Go go go,' I whispered as I willed Bose to leave. By this time, I had bitten off a considerable portion of my right thumb nail.

    Stretching and yawning, Bose emerged from the church (it's the church, right? Because if it's the office, you already said there was nobody in the office). It was 7:15. As I crouched waiting, willing him to leave, I managed to bite off a considerable portion of my thumbnail.

    NOTE: The part about the streetlights is superfluous; if you're going to use it, use it in the first paragraph where you're describing the setting. And that whole thing is very clumsily worded. And again: If he even halfway knows what he's about, your protagonist is not going to even be whispering to himself as he watches a person who he obviously doesn't want to see him emerge from the building, right? He's hiding behind a car, he's freezing his ass off, he's waiting for this guy to leave. Even an inexperienced thug would remain as quiet as possible. Just sayin.

    I decided not to deal with the last paragraph; I read it a couple of times and realized that it would take me too long, and there are things I want to do.

    Nevertheless, I hope these suggestions of mine were helpful to you. Have fun! yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  3. Palimpsest
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    Palimpsest Senior Member

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    Hey, noun-verb based writing is in style this century! What's not are adjectives, adverbs, "telling" where you could "show", and passive voice. Maybe modifying those would do some good in fighting the "See Spot. See Spot run." style, but it's worth noting that noun-verb sentence structure is ... exactly what makes a sentence. I remember Stephen King's book On Writing, advised that whenever a writer begins to panic over grammar, they should just remember what makes a complete sentence: noun-verb.
    Rocks fall. <-- complete sentence. relax.

    Does that help?
     
  4. varsh
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    varsh New Member

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    yeah, thanks guys all these do help a lot. I will try to be an active member of this club from now on, now that i have decided to take my writing seriously... there is this short story that i wrote recently that was in first person... though i forget what Step King said about writing in first person (in 'ON WRITING'), he surely didnt advise the use of 'I'. Approximately 4% of all words is an 'I'. I have written about 10 pages/4500 words, and out of those, I hvae used 'I' 165 or so times. I find this boring, but dont see how to avoid it. Sample this...

    'I was delayed at work once more and heard the phone again while I was walking back from office. I peered into the entrance with thoughts of stepping in to pick the call. With no lights and no people around - hell there was a cemetery nearby - there was no way I was going in there. I walked away from there as fast as my legs could go and met Bose on the way. As I opened my mouth to talk, he raised his hand and stopped me.'

    Rephrasal would probably be like this

    'I was delayed at work once more and I heard the phone again while on my way back from office. I peered into the entrance with thoughts of stepping in to pick the call. With no lights and no people around - hell there was a cemetery nearby - there was no way I was going in there. While walking away from there as fast as my legs could go, I met Bose on the way. He raised his hand and interrupted me when i opened my mouth to talk.'

    Eeks... this still doesnt sound good and still has a lot of I' in it... any more attempts to remove the 'I' would result in a painful removal that will leave the writing all scarred....
     
  5. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    A first person pov uses "I". There's no way around it.
     
  6. Palimpsest
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    Palimpsest Senior Member

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    Maybe if the narrator were more observant than self-conscious?

    Hopefully, it'd be something smoother, but this way there's less I's. If your narrator jumps to a conclusion (He must have this, he was that, she must have thought that something, because I could see how something else it was...) we'll just have to take his/her word for it (but too much of this observation, and, might as well have it in 3rd person.)
     

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