1. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Would you adjust the commas in these sentences?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tea@3, Mar 23, 2016.

    He got a cup of coffee, stood in the doorway, watching her as he sipped it.

    She was in the rear of the store, talking to Blount, a tall, gray-haired, amiable man who seemed to know her well.
     
  2. TheRealStegblob
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    TheRealStegblob Active Member

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    I might omit the coma from "She was in the rear of the store, talking to Blount" and just write it as, "She was in the rear of the store talking to Blount", but I think it's a hyper minor issue and it's right and looks good either way.

    I've seen some people get anal as shit over coma placement, but for the most part I don't think anyone cares too much. As long as the coma isn't in a blatantly wrong spot, it's really just cutting hairs and comes down to largely just personal preference with what a coma means to you when you read it in a sentence.
     
  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I'd probably break the second sentence.

    She was in the rear of the store, talking to Blount, a tall, gray-haired, amiable man who seemed to know her well.
    She was in the rear of the store, talking to Blount. He was a tall, gray haired, amiable man.
     
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  4. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    "stood in the doorway" feels like a contextless fragment without a connecting word. I wasn't even sure who was standing in the doorway at first. My recommendation:

    He got a cup of coffee and stood in the doorway, watching her as he sipped it.

    The second one looks grammatically correct to me, but that many commas in such a short span are hell on your rhythm. I'd recommend having her address Blount by name:

    She was in the rear of the store, talking to a tall, gray-haired, amiable man who seemed to know her well. "It's not that easy, Blount," she said.[/QUOTE]
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    That first one makes my eyes bleed. Not sure why, but I really don't like it. Maybe faulty parallel structure?

    I'd add an "and" between one or the other of the clauses. "He got a cup of coffee and stood in the doorway, watching her as he sipped." (unclear antecedent on "it" - pretty clear he isn't sipping the doorway, but still...). or "He got a cup of coffee, stood in the doorway, and watched her as he sipped."

    For the second one I'd get rid of the first comma. "She was in the rear of the store talking to Blount, a tall, gray-haired, amiable man who seemed to know her well."

    But my formal grammar is terrible, so I can't explain why I prefer these versions...
     
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  6. TheRealStegblob
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    TheRealStegblob Active Member

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    Ah, I didn't even notice the first sentence was "watching her". Without an 'and' in there, I'd change it to read;

    I actually fucking hate that style of writing though lol. What I myself would do is put an "and" before "stood".
     
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  7. Jeni
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    Jeni Member

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    What about:
    He grabbed a cup of coffee then stood in the doorway, watching her as he sipped it.

    it also works with and but then for some reason I see him fixing the cup of coffee in the doorway.....lol
    and "got" kind of gets me
     
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  8. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    He got a cup of coffee and stood in the doorway, watching her as he sipped.

    She was in the rear of the store, chatting amiably with a tall, gray-haired man named Blount.

    That's all you need. The "chatting amiably" tells the reader that they apparently know each other, so the second part is superfluous.
     
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  9. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    These are both from a major bestseller. Just didn't feel right to me. I'm glad to see it isn't just me, and I found everyone's input interesting. I woulda done them:

    He sipped a cup of coffee from the doorway, watching her.

    On the second, I would break it into two separate sentences like some of you did.


    I find imperfections in published fiction encouraging. :)
     
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  10. Gilganjun
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    Gilganjun New Member

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    I think the commas are perfectly fine and grammatically accurate.

    There are so many different ways of constructing sentences to ultimately convey the same meaning or circumstances.

    With a freshly-brewed cup of coffee poised at his lips, he stood silent at the doorway, watching her. As he took the first sip, the musky, bitter, yet invigorating sensation invading his tongue was almost a replica of her personality in liquid form.
     
  11. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I find them both encouraging and frustrating, as they make reading more difficult and writing less structural (more forgiving on my mistakes). Oh well, I can't have it both ways!
     
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