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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is the correct... grammar tool.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by GuardianWynn, Nov 4, 2015.

    I got a line. It feels like it needs a... what is the formal term for stuff like commas, and such? In either case it feels like it needs one I have never used before. The sentence is this.

    The best option try and work with them.

    In case more context is needed. Here is the whole paragraph.

    The distraction of losing her link to Daniel couldn't have come at a worse time. Enemy soldiers were coming from the fourth path. They were too close to avoid a visual. The best option try and work with them. Annie after all was still in disguise. They slowed down when they saw her.

    My guess is a colon but I am bad at this stuff and realize I don't even know what a colon is for.

    Thanks.

    @ChickenFreak
    @jannert
    @Tenderiser
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I would say "The best option was to try and work with them." but if you want to use a punctuation mark I would say "The best option: try and work with them."

    I think of a colon like a fanfare saying "LISTEN UP! Something important is coming!" and use them when I want to pack a punch with the words that come after them. I'm such ChickenFreak will have a much more technical explanation than that. :D
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. My first comment is that "try and" is regarded as a colloquialism--the more standard way of putting this would be "try to". But that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it, it's just something to be aware of--I wouldn't, for example, use it in a resume or a query letter in case you run into someone who actually regards it as incorrect. Googling it, I also find that Americans are more likely than the British to object to it.

    Leaving that aside, possible rephrasings of this could be:

    The best option would be to try and work with them.
    The best option was to try and work with them.
    The best option: Try and work with them.
    The best option? Try and work with them.
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow. You capitalize try in the use of a colon?
    That is a colon right?

    In my head I see her phrasing it as one would a list. I suppose a list of one item in this case. Does that modify which one would be used? Or I suppose I could be mistaking list for questioning herself which I suppose is why you added that as an option.

    One thing I am worried about is character voice. This character is a more a normal girl and is meant to be more of a relaxed character. So I was afraid of her dialogue being overly formal. Which is why I think I was trying to avoid going for the first or second option. It almost feels like gutting her voice to make it correct. If that makes any sense?
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not required. In fact, I suspect that it's technically incorrect in my example, because the part starting with 'try' isn't a nice clean complete sentence.

    Yep!

    Offhand, I don't think that the list idea would make a difference.

    I like the third, question, option best, I think because it has more of a vibe of internal dialogue rather than of a narrator's explanation. I don't like the colon option, but I have no idea why.
     
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  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think @ChickenFreak covered it pretty well, but there's one other option, and it depends on the character. You could use:

    The best option? Try and work with them.

    I know this is a line that isn't spoken aloud, but using a question mark will dictate how the reader "hears" the line (a rising pitch on the word "option"). It seems a little less assertive than the colon, and would indicate (to me, at least) that Annie was still working out her options as she thinks the line - she hasn't already determined what she'll do.

    Just a thought. :)
     
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  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I like the question mark option. :)
     
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  8. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    The question mark one is the one I'd use in this situation, but that's more related to my style than what's correct vs. what's incorrect. I'm big on internal monologue stuff.
     
  9. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Actually, the sentence structure itself is incorrect. Fix it and no "in sentence" punctuation will be required. The sentence should read: The best option would be to try to work with them. Very often the solution to complicated punctuation problems is rewriting. Readers don't like complicated punctuation anyway.
     
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes but this sentence is trying to be like internal monologue or in a character voice. Just correcting the sentence structure seems like it robs her of her voice.

    So it is more like:

    The best option (pause) try and work with them. Which I suppose phrasing it like that. I was asking what was the correct way to give the pause. Yet it is more like she is asking herself a question and answering it. Which I guess means the best way might be more like this:

    The best option? Try and work with them.

    If that makes sense?
     
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  11. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Again, your best option is to change the sentence structure to avoid cumbersome punctuation.
    --Maybe her best option is to try to work with them.
    --She might just have to try to work with them.
    --It appeared that her best option was to try to work with them.
    --Etc.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The sentence structure is correct with the colon. The question mark option splits it into two sentences, so it's not an issue. Also, this is not a complicated punctuation problem; rather, it's pretty simple.

    And please, please, please don't assume that "readers" are all the same! Saying "readers" don't like complicated punctuation is casting aspersions on people who read at a level higher than tenth grade or so. It's tantamount to making a whole slew of assumptions about readers. Readers only like YA fantasy about romantic vampires. Readers hate adverbs. Readers hate long sentences. Readers hate long words. Readers hate long paragraphs. Readers hate long chapters. Readers love long series of novels. Readers love young female MCs with magical powers. Readers all vote Democrat. Readers all drive small Japanese economy cars. Readers listen to Lady Gaga obsessively. Readers love Cocoa Puffs. Readers hate Corn Flakes. Readers hate math. Readers hate sports, especially football. And golf. Readers love cats.

    Etc. etc. etc.

    Please don't treat all readers like they're the same. There are almost as many different types of reader as there are readers. It's unproductive, and a little offensive, to paint them all with the same brush.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    My issue is that your versions feel like bland, like a robot or narrator. Which was why I didn't want to do. I mean character voice is important isn't it?

    I thought my choppiness or answering her own question aspect of it, had sort of a assertive tone too it. Which is supposed to be the point, a normal girl trying to be assertive in a dire situation. If that makes sense?

    @minstrel Am I thinking this in the wrong way?
     
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  14. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Whoa!!! Could have done without the lecture--could have qualified my comment by saying "some readers," but for sake of brevity (I am typing on an iPad) and in the context of this being an internal thought the OP was asking about, my input was that simpler sentence structure would solve the punctuation problem. When you choose to scold those who contribute to a conversation you aren't promoting dialogue, you are coming off with a load of arrogance. I was attempting to offer help--the help can be declined if the OP does not find it helpful. You can take your lecture on generalizations and put it where the sun don't shine.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I apologize for the tone, but not for the content. I was royally pissed off about something else and I kinda took it out on you more than I should have. Sorry.

    But what I said about readers holds.
     
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  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're thinking of it in the right way. This is your character and the reader should feel her personality in the prose you write. Reducing her to blandness won't work for your story, in my opinion.
     
  17. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Thank you. Apology accepted--and I have no disagreement that, in general, many readers have no problem with complicated punctuation. And perhaps, if you think about it, that sometimes there is merit to avoiding complicated punctuation by modifying sentence structure if it can be done in a manner that honors the tone of the scene and/or character.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not Minstrel, but I agree that maximizing the character mood and voice is a good plan. I vote for the question mark option.
     
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  19. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is what I ended up doing. :D Currently.

    You know. This feels like a special moment. Like a moment I feel like a writer. Stressing and opening a discussion of the different ways to handle one line. lol. :D It feels wonderful and horrible at the same time. lol
     
  20. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    At least one of us is laughing. And I think we're all writers--some of us just more bland than others.
     
  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    But . . . but . . . you mean all readers don't love cats? I'm devastated! :bigeek:
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, you know, you're happily reading with your book in front of you, and then your cat jumps into your lap and sprawls all over the very pages you are reading just to demand attention! Cats think they take precedence over books, but we all know that, uh ...

    ... they're right.

    Sometimes.

    Damn cats!

    ;)
     
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not happy with 'try and work with them,' unless it's a piece of colloquial dialogue. It really is incorrect.

    'and' is a conjunction
    'to' is a preposition

    You could say:

    Scream and cause a panic. (You will be doing both—but not necessarily intentionally.)

    or

    Scream to cause a panic. (One will cause the other to happen, which is what you intend.)

    The meanings are different, aren't they?

    Same with Try and work with them. (Try 'whatever' and also work with them.)

    Try to work with them (Trying is what you should be doing to get along with your colleagues.)

    It's become embedded in our recognition of slang what 'try and work with them' actually means. But it's not correct—and I don't think it sits right in a written work. It shouts 'mistake.'
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
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  24. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    The contest of scene is a girl that is dressed in enemy clothing. Enemies spot her, she panics for a moment but composes herself with the goal of blending in since she is in their style uniform for the spy mission she is doing.

    So this is more like her having a moment of internal doubt that is quickly squashed by the realization that she can try and blend in.

    Does that make the moment "Colloquil?"
     
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  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Colloquial means slang. The situation doesn't make a difference.

    Personally since you're clearly in her head, I would be happy to use a colloquial term. But some readers won't like it. As I've said before, writing would be easy if it wasn't for damn readers :)
     
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