1. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    Which order is right?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Cyb3r Elite, Aug 11, 2016.

    Hello,
    This is part of a sentence from the second paragraph in the story I'm writing, and I was wondering which order to use, it's quite confusing me, I don't know which words to Google, and I found no other threads that discussed word order (if you happen to see one, please refer me to it), here:

    -with a pen and notebook in my lap that read "Believe"
    or
    -with a pen and notebook that read "Believe" in my lap
    Also,
    Should I use an "a" before notebook? Or is this correct?
    Is using "said" instead of "read (past tense)" better, or does it make no difference?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    But, are you so committed to this way of phrasing it? Can you not rephrase it to say what you want without causing you to query your grammar?

    ETA: If this is first draft, really don't sweat the details. Bang out your 100k words, and worry about the fine print on second run-through; you'll probably scrap this whole scene on edit!
     
  3. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    Do you mean that both the pen and the notebook have the word 'Believe' printed on them?
    Do they 'say' 'Believe' in text?
    Do they metaphorically 'say' 'Believe' - e.g. do they 'tell' you 'you can do this'?

    At the moment, either version is pretty ambiguous. 'Said' vs 'read' makes a difference. Not sure the word order does.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'd rewrite it too.

    On my lap was a pen, and a notebook. On the first page the word 'Believe' was printed.
     
  5. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    No, only the notebook does, and yes, it does say 'believe' in text. It's not really intended as a metaphor though, I suppose it's part of the plot.
     
  6. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    The thing is though, this is part of another sentence, this does sound more reasonable, but here's the whole sentence:
    "I sat with my knees to my chest on the balcony balustrade, which was wide enough to be used as a bar table, with a pen and notebook in my lap that read "Believe", and so I did wonder everytime I read it, believe in what?"
    Should I add a semicolon after 'table' and start the sentence the way you suggested?
     
  7. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    Thank you, but are you certain this is the correct way to form a subordinate clause? I've heard using 'with' as a conjuction isn't wholly right.
     
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    No.

    Break up this sentence, though, it's a monster.

    I'm also having trouble imagining sitting with my knees to my chest (kind of bent double) and with a notebook in my lap...and being able to read the word "Believe" - through my knees?
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    -with a pen and notebook that read "Believe" in my lap (You could comma off the notebook into a sub-clause to make it totally obvious - with a pen, and a notebook that read "Believe", in my lap)

    OK, it seems I've been using the term sub-clause improperly, so I'll have to admit I don't know the grammatical term for it, but...

    I sat with a pen, and a notebook that read "Believe", in my lap.

    You could remove what I've been calling the sub-clause (and a notebook that read "Believe") without changing the general sense of the sentence, merely reducing the information the reader gets from it.

    I sat with a pen in my lap.
     
  10. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    Though I am not sure what you mean by 'monster', I suppose the position is possible, s/he is sitting with their knees half-bent, the notebook propped against her/his thigh. Another way to imagine it, is the character simply holding it with her/his hand in front of her/him. My head is certainly spinning, but anyhow, do you think it's most reasonable to remove it? The 'believe' word is sort of what the rest of the paragraph depends on.
     
  11. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    Shoot, I'm sorry for all the trouble, I'll consider your advice, I'm really thankful. :)
     
  12. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I sat with my knees to my chest on the balcony balustrade, which was wide enough to be used as a bar table, with a pen and notebook in my lap that read "Believe", and so I did wonder everytime I read it, believe in what?

    You can phrase it any way you choose; now you've decided what the whole paragraph is about, that's the one thing to focus on. Everything else is set-dressing. Two examples.

    I sat on the balcony, my notebook open in my lap. And on that otherwise blank page, the solitary word: "Believe". I uttered a harsh, humourless laugh. Believe in what?

    The balcony was a quiet, airy place, bathed in the golden sunshine of the South of France. While the evening dusk settled about me, and the songs of the grasshoppers dinned my ears, I sat on that bentwood chair and pondered the solitary word on the notebook open in my lap; "Believe". And in what was I supposed to believe?
     
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  13. Cyb3r Elite
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    Cyb3r Elite Member

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    There's a dark turn to the scene, plus the setting is at night, so I might use the first example, I like the way you've phrased it. Thanks a lot! :rofl:
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I would include the "a" before "notebook" for clarity. Both are clear, though grammatically speaking, "that" and "which" modify the word that immediately comes before. So the second example would be the most correct.
     

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