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  1. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    Two sentences from the Mass Effect novel

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by marcusl, Nov 14, 2009.

    I read this sentence in Mass Effect: Revelation:

    "The docking bay loomed before them, a gaping hole in the gleaming hull of the station's exterior."

    Is this line okay? I thought readers might get confused that the "gaping hole" refers to "them" (the soldiers). I've heard of a thing called dangling modifiers, but I'm not certain if this is what it is. Would it have to be:

    "Before them loomed the docking bay, a gaping hole..."

    I may as well share another sentence from the novel while I'm here:

    "As the executive officer it fell to Anderson to replay the captain's orders to the enlisted crew... and to make sure those orders were properly carried out."

    I don't understand the purpose of the "..." here?

    Thanks.
     
  2. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    For your first example, I don't think it's a problem because 'them' can't be 'a' gaping hole. Plural and single. The reader's mind automatically interprets the sentence correctly.

    If it was 'him' instead of them, it may cause confusion, but I'd probably still write it that way. I may be wrong.
     
  3. Mister Micawber
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    Mister Micawber Member

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    Dangling modifiers needn't be constantly searched out and purged; common sense takes care of most of them. In this case, I do like your recasting, however.

    Re the ellipse, we may need context, but I presume that it creates a sort of mini-tension here, an emphasis for some reason on this consequent prerogative of the Exec Officer.
     
  4. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    I agree with Joker. If it had been a single person it might have been confusing, but I had no trouble understanding it as is.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The first example suffers from a surplus of modifiers, but it isn't really all that confusing. Also, "gaping hole" is somewhat of a misfit in the description. It gives an impression of damage rather than design. The wording is accurate enough, but the connotation is off.

    The modifiers aren't dangling, but they are not well managed, either.
     
  6. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    The ellipsis is being used in a completely stupid fashion. You should never use an ellipsis to build tension or to indicate a long pause, that's what the dash "-" is for. I can't believe they let a published novel go through with such a glaring error. But I suppose, if the first sentence is any indication, they just don't give a fluck.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first sentence is ok, though a bit scrambled, imo...

    re the second, an ellipsis should not be used in the middle of a narrative sentence... it's ok in dialog, if signifying a pause in speech... where that one was used, an em dash would be the correct mark...
     
  8. SHorgan
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    SHorgan Member

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    I think it's fine. When I imagine a docking bay, especially in a Mass Effect context, I imagine a hole in side of a space station or some structure.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think the problem with the sentence is that the docking bay wouldn't be a gaping hole, the entrance to the docking bay would be.

    The entrace to the dockbay loombed before them, a gaping hole . . .
     
  10. SHorgan
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    SHorgan Member

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    Is that particularly important though? The same image is formed, people assume the gaping hole refers to the entrance, as it would be absurd for a docking bay itself to be a hole.
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Well, it certainly is more clear and precise, and at only the cost of three more words.
     
  12. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    It would be better if he had properly used the ellipsis, though:

    . . .

    Not ...
     
  13. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    No it wouldn't really make any difference. Technically, you are right about the spacing, but the use itself in this way is completely unnecessary and no matter how you look at it, it shouldn't be in the narrative, like someone else said.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup! [to all of that]
     

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