1. Embrace the Rat
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    Embrace the Rat New Member

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    Using 'and' not using a conjunction

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Embrace the Rat, Mar 2, 2016.

    This is my line in question(though there are others like it):

    “What is the meaning of this?” asked Ava Bannister. Despite the commanding tone, a twinge of shock, fear, revealed itself in her voice.

    I've had a few readers but only one has mentioned an issue with this. Not using an 'and' between shock and fear. We were discussing whether it is stylistic or technical and can't decide. Just wondering if there is anything factual or any advice on the matter.

    I like how it reads without the conjunction as i do in most other places where i use this technique but my goal is to someday be published so I want to know if this is something an editor will tear apart or if it is something that is just a style that is okay.

    Thanks
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel that it's technical--that is, yes, you're making a style decision, but it's a style decision that breaks a technical rule of grammar. As many style decisions do.
     
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  3. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see no problem with breaking the rules this way. Like @ChickenFreak said, it's a stylistic decision.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with the rest. This is style and I fully get where you're going with it, so my Grammar Brain isn't what's making the call, but instead my Style Brain. My only style suggestion is to perhaps make it of fear instead of just fear by itself to smooth out your intention and remove the initial sense a reader may have of broken syntax.

    “What is the meaning of this?” asked Ava Bannister. Despite the commanding tone, a twinge of shock, of fear, revealed itself in her voice.

    ETA: Take it only as a mild suggestion. Definitely not a must do. ;)
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I also think it is an acceptable stylistic choice. In fact, it is exactly the kind of stylistic choice I see in a number of books.
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with the others, but I wouldn't be surprised if an editor rewrites it.

    Also, when you revise, see how this sentence reads in context. That is, how does it read relative to the sentences around it? While the sentence may sound good on its own, you may change your opinion when you consider this advice. Just something to think about.
     
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  7. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    My two cents, for what it's worth: @thirdwind's advice bears repeating. I'm constantly shocked by how everything changes when you read it in context, especially rhythm and pace. You read a paragraph, you get an impression; you read a section, you get another; a chapter; a novel; the same thing applies. You may have crafted the best sentence of your career, but if it don't fit, bin it, my friend. And set fire to the bin.

    As to your sentence as it stands, I agree with @Wreybies, but I'd take his mild suggestion and raise you a moderate.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have a problem with it in general, but I think it reads awkwardly in the given example. I much prefer @Wreybies modification. Not any more technically standard, but flows better.
     
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  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with the others - it's definitely a stylistic choice rather than technical choice. With fear standing by itself, it creates a jolt - if you like the jolt, that it's intentional, then keep it. Otherwise, @Wreybies 's suggestion of adding "of" - eg. of fear - reads more smoothly. Which you prefer is up to you :) there's no right/wrong here.

    However, one could say that there's no or little reason why fear has to create such a deliberate jolt/pause by being on its own - the abruptness of it may not be a good thing if it is intentional but carries little meaning (or meaningful impact). Again, this would be more of a style/voice concern. One may say writing that does not draw attention to itself unnecessarily is better writing - in that case the you'd vote for making it smoother, without the jolt. But then depending on author voice and intention, perhaps you want the jolt there. It's kinda on what you want to emphasise at this moment in the story, and whether the stylistic choice of keeping the jolt is a good stylistic choice. Eg. does it make the writing artistically better, in your opinion? After all, exquisite writing often does draw attention to itself - a great amount of attention - but it is out of admiration rather than out of puzzlement :p

    I personally enjoy writing like this, from time to time: "The stars shine bright." Or, "Snakes slither silent across the earth." My co-author insisted that's just poor grammar, because it should be "brightly" and "silently", otherwise it would have to be "silent slither" to make "silent" an adjective rather than an adverb.

    I know she's right. But the meaning is not obscured by the break in grammatical rule, and personally I like the quiet pause it creates, the emphasis the adjective draws to itself and the rhythm it adds to a sentence. I don't write like this all the time - but sometimes it comes to me without thinking. In my collab I agreed to change it to something more grammatically correct, since it's not just my book, but in my solo works I intend to keep this quirk of mine.

    Your "break" in rule isn't half as drastic as mine. I think you're fine :p
     
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  10. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    This is the kind of thing I don't really understand yet. When I write I usually don't think of playing with the sentence structure in this way as stylistic choice. I think of the word choice as the mean driver as well as the order of words in the sentence. But beyond that, I always figure I should try to go down the path of least resistance, the path where the reader can best absorb the meaning without getting pulled out of the story.

    I would've written it as “What is the meaning of this?” asked Ava Bannister. Despite the commanding tone and a twinge of shock, fear revealed itself in her voice.

    Well, then the question is if the shock is more related to the commanding tone or the fear. I probably got that one wrong.


    The way the op wrote it I don't feel adds more meaning, it just makes it a little more muddled whereas "twinge of shock" is where the writer's style comes in. Maybe I'm completely off base with this.

    Yeah, the more I think about it I get what it was trying to confer and it is stylistic. For the average reader the original sentence is confusing. You could try extending it into two sentences. Sentence, twinge of shock then a noun. It was fear, whatever else description of the emotions. Or maybe a dash or something.

    As as average reader the sentence confused me. So if that's your audience, think about changing it. If your audience is people who know know all the comma rules without having to think about it when they see something unusual, keep it as is.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
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  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My take from what the OP is executing here is 1) not to mix the two feelings of shock and fear by using and, which then just makes it feel like a redundancy, and 2) to give the reader the feeling that the narrator almost thinks twice about the word choice, as if it to say, "It's this, but wait.. no.. it's more, it's that." As if the narrator reports a feeling at one level and then ratchets up to the next.

    Your mileage may vary. :bigwink:
     
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  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Third(?)ing @Wreybies' suggestion.
     
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  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    They both come into play. Word choice and structural choice. Here is perhaps my favorite example of what can happen when you consider both as equally important:

    This is the first page of Samuel R. Delany's book, Dhalgren (1975).

    to wound the autumnal city.

    So howled out for the world to give him a name.

    The in-dark answered with wind.

    All you know I know: careening astronauts and bank clerks glancing at the clock before lunch; actresses cowling at light-ringed mirrors and freight elevator operators grinding a thumbful of grease on a steel handle; student riots; know that dark women in bodegas shook their heads last week because in six months prices have risen outlandishly; how coffee tastes after you've held it in your mouth, cold, a whole minute.

    A whole minute he squatted, pebbles clutched with his left foot (the bare one), listening to his breath sound tumble down the ledges.

    Beyond a leafy arras, reflected moonlight flittered.

    He rubbed his palms against denim. Where he was, was still. Somewhere else, wind whined.

    The leaves winked.


    The first sentence looks like the clipped end of a longer sentence, and it is. This is exactly as it is published. The clipped sentence is the tail end of a sentence that occurs in another book read within this one. Metafiction. Notice the length and complexity of the 4th paragraph, all one contrived sentence. It's quite baroque in structure, and the purpose is very clear. Delany means to give you a whirlwind of images, from one place to another, the images understood as simultaneous and part of a greater descriptive whole. There is motion and pause, motion and pause. Cadence and rhythm. Notice the stark simplicity of the last two sentences in the 7th and 8th paragraphs. He says volumes in just 4 words.
     
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  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Wreybies

    Nice example, from a great book.

    I feel the 'average reader' doesn't get as much credit as she deserves in these conversations. Another example of an author who uses sentence construction and structure to achieve a style is Cormac McCarthy. He also foregoes the use of quotation marks for dialogue, and sometimes for offsetting dialogue in its own paragraph, which is also a stylistic choice (and not a standard one). Yet I believe that McCarthy targets the 'average reader' with his work, and his success would seem to back that up. It's not just cloistered academics poring over his work through their spectacles.
     
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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Frankly, this is the stuff I wish we would discuss more often. :bigwink: I sometimes feel like we never get around to these finer points of not just which words we use, but how we use them, when we use them, the different "special effects" that are possible and desirable when choices are made with deliberation and intent.
     
  16. Embrace the Rat
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    Embrace the Rat New Member

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    Thanks all for the tips, advice and opinions. It is nice to hear that while it may a technical issue on some level, it seems to be popular opinion that it is an acceptable stylistic decision, when used properly. I will have to take extra time in my revisions to see where it does not work as well as different phrasing would and make those changes. Thanks again!
     

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