1. blandmanblind
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    blandmanblind Member

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    Two Problem Sentences

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by blandmanblind, Jan 4, 2016.

    Hello, wordsmiths. I am at an impasse. These are two sentences from my first chapter that I have been reading for so long that I've started to get hung up on them maybe not conveying the meaning I want, or sounding odd.

    "He had fished from an attic trunk his brother's thin tuxedo coat and pants that Raif had worn in his first wedding."

    He [the protagonist/Uaine] fishes from a trunk his brother's, Raif's, tuxedo coat and pants that Raif had worn during Raif's first wedding. I don't know if the current sentence above expresses that clearly enough.

    "Sleepy residents fled the apartment building and into the perimeter of police slinging everyone to the ground, the squatters and indigent, the welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and the genuine blue-collars as if they were all the same."

    Something feels wrong with this sentence. And the problem is that I have looked at it for so long that I can't really step back from it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks you.
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    "He had fished from an attic trunk his brother's thin tuxedo coat and pants that Raif wore at his first wedding."

    This alteration seems more natural, but if you just want to know if the original is clear, it is.

    "Sleepy residents fled the apartment building and into the perimeter of police slinging everyone to the ground, the squatters and indigent, the welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and the genuine blue-collars, as if they were all the same."

    It seems like it's just that 'and' and the comma at the end I added.

    ETA: I'm not sure about my use of omitting the second 'had' since I couldn't find any examples of usage on the net, so I might be wrong about that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    He had fished, from an attic trunk, the thin tuxedo coat and pants that his brother Raif had been married in.

    Sleepy residents fled the apartment building and into the police perimeter. The police were slinging everyone to the ground--the squatters and indigent, the welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and the genuine blue-collar, as if they were all the same.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    SENTENCE ONE

    Does it have to be "fished"?

    "In an attic trunk he found the thin tuxedo coat and pants his brother Raif had been married in."

    or, I guess, "From an attic trunk he fished..."

    SENTENCE TWO

    Sleepy residents ran from the apartment building right into the perimeter, where the police were slinging everyone to the ground--the squatters and indigent, the welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and the genuine blue collar workers--as if they were all the same.

    NOTE
    I made my versions without reading other people's. I agree with @ChickenFreak 's decision to separate sentence two into two sentences - I was going to do that but thought maybe it wasn't allowed in the game!
     
  5. JBeckingham
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    JBeckingham Member

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    If you have already established that Raif is his brother, then perhaps you could try:
    "He had fished the thin tuxedo that Raif had worn at his first wedding from an old attic trunk."

    I also thought you could potentially remove "tuxedo coat and pants" and just say tuxedo, which (at least to me) implies the whole suit :)


    Sleepy residents ran from the building into a perimeter of police, who were slinging everyone indiscriminately to the ground - squatters and indigent, welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and genuine blue-collars as if they were all the same."


    Or you could move "as if they were all the same" into the first sentence.

    Sleepy residents ran from the building into a perimeter of police, who were slinging everyone to the ground as if they were all the same - squatters and indigent, welfare queens and foster-care scammers, and even genuine blue-collars."
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here's my 'try.'

    From the bottom of an attic trunk, Uaine fished out the thin tuxedo coat and pants that Raif had worn in his first wedding." (If the reader already knows Raif is Uaine's brother, then 'his brother' doesn't need to be part of the sentence. If the coat AND pants were both worn at the wedding, my sentence will work. If only the pants were worn at the wedding, then you need to make that clear. The concept of 'fished' implies that the objects weren't on top of what was inside the trunk.)

    "Sleepy residents fled the apartment building, straight into the perimeter of police outside. The police were slinging everyone to the ground—the squatters and indigent, the welfare queens and foster-care scammers, the genuine blue-collars—as if they were all the same."

    You're welcome. :)
     
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  7. Aster
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    Aster Member

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    The problem here is that brother and Raif are the same subject. When you say 'brother's' you create an instance of one subject, and Raif is an instance of a whole new subject. Also, it's not clear from the sentence alone that it was Raif's wedding. 'that Raif had worn in his first wedding' could refer to Uaine because this is still one sentence.

    A tuxedo tends to refer to the whole outfit so mentioning the coat and pants is unnecessary. Also are there such things as attic trunks? Or is it just a trunk you happen to store in the attic? You don't get many attics in Australia so I'm not aware of trunks specifically sold as "Attic Trunk"s.

    I assume that the previous sentence has someone observe that Uaine is in possession of the tuxedo. Which is why you began the sentence with 'He had'.

    I suggest:

    "He had fished from a trunk in the attic his brother's old tuxedo. Raif had worn it for his first wedding."



    'Sleepy' and 'fled' are incompatible to me. 'Sleepy' conjures up a scene of people hunched at the shoulders, droopy-eyed and shuffling along, occasionally yawning and rubbing their eyes. Are they sleepy or are they disoriented? Are they fleeing or do they meander?

    The whole thing reads like the police are slinging people into the ground and also into the squatters, indigent, welfare queens and so on. You need a semicolon where the comma is after 'ground'.
    Also, you might use the term 'alike'.

    Can we see the sentences in the context of their paragraphs?
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. I'll second that request.
     
  9. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll have a go at it, even at this late date:

    "From a trunk in the attic, he had fished out the thin tuxedo coat and pants his brother Raif had worn in his first wedding."

    I imagine that from the larger context the reader will know whose wedding it was. I like mentioning the items of clothing separately, since you use the word "thin." I get a picture of them being a little cheap, maybe all Raif could afford at the time. And something went wrong with that first marriage, which makes it more pathetic still. Whereas with "thin tuxedo" I keep getting diverted by an image of the suit being worn by a skinny guy. But that's just my mind off its leash.

    "Residents still disoriented with sleep stumbled out of the [apartment] building and right into the police perimeter. The cops were slinging everyone to the ground--- the squatters and the indigent, the welfare queens and the foster-care scammers, the genuine blue-collars and the struggling retirees--- as if they were all the same."
    It's possible you won't have to use the word "apartment," if you've previously mentioned that's the kind of building it is.

    Seems to me you need the article "the" before all the types of people being slung by the cops, unless you want to say that welfare queens are the same as foster-care scammers, etc. I'd highly recommend you add another category of residents to the "genuine blue-collars" to maintain the rhythm and the parallelism.

    "Perimeter of police" seems awkward to me; wouldn't it be "perimeter of policemen"? Actually, a perimeter is a line drawn (or drawn up) around something, and I'm coming up with an absurd picture of law enforcement officers playing ring-around-the-rosy in a street full of darkened brownstones. Wouldn't it be "line of policemen"? Though if you've already established that the apartment building is freestanding and the cops are drawn up all around it, ignore that.

    But the vignettes presented by these two sentences (as you mean them to be) are intriguing. I'll be interested to see more of this.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016

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