1. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Why do authors do this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by architectus, Jul 5, 2009.

    Why do authors do this? :confused:

    The context is the daughter of Michael Render sees her the face of her father in one of the ET hands, and Vince Hoit's in the other hand. This is from The Taking by Dean Koontz.

    (1a) The ET closed its enormous hands, and from within its clinched fingers, she heard her father screaming in agony, and Vince Hoyt.

    Instead of:

    (1b) The Et closed its enormous hands, and from within its clinched fingers her father and Vince Hoyt screamed in agony.

    Even this is better:

    (1c) The Et closed its enormous hands, and from within its clinched fingers she heard her father and Vince Hoyt screaming in agony.

    It makes no sense to me. I don't see any benefits of writing a sentence like that. It's confusing, takes the power away from the action, and robs the sentence of the end stress. Screamed in agony is much better than and Vince Hoyt. Also, why say she heard her father? The sentence is stronger without the filter word "heard."

    Sentence 1b has a strong ending, with the stress on the scream. The stress is also on the scream in 1c, so why do authors sometimes write sentences like in 1a?
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not every author is privileged enough to have an account on this forum ;)
     
  3. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I wonder if the significant part is that she also heard Vince Hoit. In which case, I'd wonder why he didn't put a comma before "... and Vince Hoit" (or even use a sentence fragment: [period] And Vince Hoit.) in order to emphasize its importance. Otherwise, I agree with you that it's not just confusing, but an awkward structure. My question would less why the author wrote it this way, but why didn't the editor pick it up before publishing (of course, maybe he did, and the author had some reason to defend his choice--but I don't know what reason that would be).
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    He did use the commas. I've updated the post to be exactly as it appears in the novel, but the commas don't help any. It still makes no sense why he wrote it this way and not like 1b or 1c.

    and technically, I think there should be commas after fingers in 1b and 1c, but I thought they read better without them.
     
  5. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    It's difficult to judge without the benefit of context. Based only on one sentence, I would say that DK wanted the emphasis to be on Vince Hoit. But without knowing what comes before and after, I can't really say on the basis of one sentence.
     
  6. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I think it is possible that it is just one of those little things that didn't get caught in the editing process. Even in some of the best books I read, there are still a few sentences or typo words that I catch along the way. I chalk it up to no one is perfect, and just continue on reading. When it is just a couple of sentences though this is acceptable. But, when there are glaring mistakes throughout the whole book, I'll either not finishing it, or never read it again.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Rose, you would think that would be the purpose, but Vince Hoyt is a nobody in the story, as it says in the paragraph before this.

    ... In his left hand, the face of Michael Render. In his right hand, the face of Vince Hoyt, the footbal coach standing faceless now in the lobby of the bank.

    The ET closed its enormous hands, and from within its clenched fingers, she heard her father screaming in agony, and Vince Hoyt.

    When it opened its hands, the faces had changed, and now she saw a famous politician in the left, a famous actress in the right. These, too, cried in misery when it crushed them in its fists.

    It goes on not mentioning Hoyt. This whole book doesn't have his personality, humor, or grammar skills. It's as if he hired someone to try to write like him. lol, now I sound like a conspiracy nut.
     
  8. Ambrose
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    Ambrose Member

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    Are we sure Vince Hoyt is screaming? Her father is, but is he? Maybe he's doing something else. Hence, she heard him whispering maybe.
     
  9. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    Without reading the book at all, and just the contexts that you gave- it sounds like he's not a very good writer. Maybe it's just a bad book- or maybe someone stole his body and wrote under his name (totally fueling your conspiracies.) I would have to read the whole book, but from what you have written here- It doesn't seem like a very well written book. Ha. maybe he forgot to call his editor and went straight to publishing XD
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree that it's a poorly constructed sentence. It looks like he didn't do a very good job of revision.
     
  11. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Architectus,

    Given that (although it's still too small a sample to judge properly, I'd have to read the whole book for that) it seems that he is either creating an unreliable narrator POV or a supernatural entity that can change the perceptions of the narrator POV.

    DK might want you to question the sanity of the POV character, thereby casting her perceptions into ambiguity.

    And, who knows, he might have done it just to mess with the heads of aspiring writers. (wink)
     
  12. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I have no idea why people think he was trying to emphasise Vince. It was very obvious to me upon reading it the first time that the emphasis was on the father. The important part of a sentence typically comes first - after thoughts are at the end, just like using "which". The comma separation indicates a secondary thought of lesser importance, a "by the way. . ."

    ". . .from within its clinched fingers, she heard her father screaming in agony" - you could cut the sentence right there. The author has written this part as a standalone sentence, and then added a mention of Vince, because he's an afterthought the character is having, and he really doesn't deserve a sentence of his own (having his own complete sentence would put more emphasis him, because then he wouldn't just be an afterthought; he would be a follow-up thought).

    The author does not say "her father and Vince" because that would put them on an equal level - it would seem she cared as much for vince as for her father, which, obviously, she did not.

    "John sat down with his chocolate ice cream, which wasn't all time favourite flavour, but it was still great."

    The main thing is that he sat down eating ice cream. . . the rest is unimportant, and I didn't even have to mention that it was chocolate.

    Dean Koontz might have made his point more clear if he had neglected to mention vince altogether, but I think the sentence is perfectly fine as is. It read perfect to me the first time, and I didn't have to think about it. . .

    I don't understand this thread, though. I'm more confused by your confusion!:confused:
     
  13. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    Poor Kas, your alien brain can't comprehend little things! I do get your points though, and you do make valid ones!! Though i think if that's the case, that Vince was just an after though, he probably should have just left Vince out of that sentence completely. We know he's there but all the focus is on the father, why bring us out of that to mention the after though of Vince
     
  14. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Because she did hear his screaming, so it was a secondary thought running parallel to her concern for her father. Leaving Vince out would just imply that he was silent. It wouldn't really convey the same message as the original sentence.

    That's my take on it, anyway.
     
  15. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    I agree. The sentence does look ugly however, because the idea he's trying to convey is complicated for one sentence. I think if we had the surrounding sentences for context it could help make it clearer. By placing Vince in a separate clause, he seems like an afterthought- still something she's aware of, but of lesser significance.
     
  16. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    That is true too. I guess it's a hard sentence in itself to write, sometimes sentences just have no easy fix!
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since koontz is an exceptionally fine writer and usually precise in his wording, i'd have to guess this is either a goof by his editor, or there's a reason for that odd wording that doesn't show up in a small excerpt...

    spending time guessing at things beyond that seems to me an exercise in futility that can be avoided by simply asking the unusually obliging [for a famous person] mr. koontz, who is easily accessible via his website...

     
  18. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Kas, that would make sense if she actually loved her father, but she doesn't. He is a child killer, who she shot two times in the back.

    Maia, that's a good idea. I'll try it but probably will not receive a responce.
     
  19. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    lmao

    Well, that blows my theory to hell. At least now I understand your confusion.:p
     
  20. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I still agree with Kas, though not EXACTLY the same way.

    The thing is (how I see it) the writer wants to say, mostly, that she heard her father scream, but he also wanted to convey that the other guy also screamed, without having to create a new sentence to refocus the attention on the other guy, OR write that they both screamed.

    When I read the first sentence, I got a walloping amount of emotion out of it.
    The other two felt much weaker.

    It's probably because he focuses the narration fully on the father, and we get all of the emotion out of it, and then he throws in the name of the other guy.

    When I read it, of course, I don't think of it in a complicated manner like that.

    It just seemed to work.
     
  21. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Oops. I stopped reading right there.

    Before I read this thread, are there spoilers I should worry about?

    I regularly read his books, but haven't read that one yet.

    Charlie
     
  22. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even though she hated her father, I'm sure he played a more important role to her than that other guy, who then was mentioned offhand.

    Perfect language isn't necessarily the best language. Like a good piece of art, it should have some rough edges that shows the human side of the maker.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds like pseudo-philosophy to me... and doesn't make much sense...

    where are the 'rough edges' of the 'mona lisa' or the statue of 'david'?... or the sistine chapel's ceiling and the parthenon?

    or, in shakepeare's plays and sonnets?... or in the finest works of the greatest composers?...
     
  24. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen the sistine chapel in person no more than a few months ago. Before it was restored, art experts would readily point out the divine perfection in the subtle use of color. Fact is that the real paintings that emerged after the restoration are anything but subtle - the colors are vivid to the point of being outrageous.

    The statue of David is not an anatomically correct human form. It's Michelangelo's interpretation of the divinity in men, not entirely without trace of his sexual admiration for them.

    Both these works bear clear signature of Michelangelo's perception of the world - they express the artist's soul. While they are masterpieces, you can't really apply the word "perfect" to them, or they would be meaningless and dead.

    I would say the same for all the works you listed. The personality of the creator is seeping through every fiber of the works and that's what makes them so fascinating.

    Shakespeare didn't become immortal because he could spell, but because he knew the human soul and shared his own.

    Simply saying that their works are "perfect" sounds to me like a simplistic parroting of those who said it previously, without realizing what truly sets the works apart.

    I can have my computer generate a perfect picture in a matter of seconds, but I doubt it'll touch many hearts.

    If you disagree then so be it.
     
  25. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I agree with you....I think it was just the "rough edges" description that was a little jarring...certainly personality can, does and should show through, and no work can really ever be considered perfect, but I don't think that necessarily implies any "roughness"...

    Semantics will get you every time :p
     

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