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  1. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    I need help, please!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by chrismackey, Jan 10, 2019.

    I tend to write sentences like the one below where I use a past tense verb first then a present tense. Is that wrong? Just wondering because my publisher changes them without giving a reason. Thanks for any help you can give.

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart, dying his gray beard crimson."
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    What does your publisher change them to? What kind of publisher?

    And what are you seeing as a present tense verb? I don't see one. If you're thinking of "dying" (which should be "dyeing") that's past continuous tense. The same word would, yes, be used for present continuous tense, but that doesn't mean that you're changing from past to present.
     
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  3. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Hey ChickenFreak. He changed it to "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart and dyed his gray beard crimson."
     
  4. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Your publisher has everything in past tense.

    It's the publisher's editor though isn't it? Have they already bought your piece?
     
  5. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    It's a small publisher, so they didn't give me an advance, and they won't do any marketing. They edit (the owner is the editor), format, provide the book cover and ISBN number, and make it available to a variety of online store platforms.
     
  6. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Congrats on being published!

    But something comes to mind...did you pay them? Is this self-publishing?
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It appears that you're giving up a lot of control and getting little to nothing in return.
     
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  8. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    EBohio, no, I didn't pay anything. They're a real publisher but very small.

    ChickenFreak, yeah you might be right about that
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Did he claim that "dying" was present tense? If he does, then he is lacking in a lot of basics of English and should not be editing.
     
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  10. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    No, he didn't mention anything about it. He simply changed it. He gave it to me for cleanup, so I'm gonna change it back to the way it was at first
     
  11. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    He didn't change it because of the tense. He likes it the way he changed it and I agree with him. The way he has it is a better sentence.
     
  12. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    BBohio. I'll consider it. I'm not an expert, so I don't know. lol
     
  13. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Your publisher is the one that wants to publish it. Follow their advice.
     
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  14. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    I disagree. If I was editing that, there's no way I would allow that many "and"s in one sentence. It feels clunky at best, like a run-on at worst.

    I would either have gone with:

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground; the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart and dyed his gray beard crimson."

    or:

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart, dyeing his gray beard crimson." (the original, as it turns out)

    or maybe:

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the blood spewed by his tattered flesh dyed his gray beard crimson."

    or even:

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart, turning the old man's grey beard a sickening shade of crimson."

    But the "and, and, and" style would never even occur to me.

    In my distinctly non-professional, self-taught opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  15. chrismackey

    chrismackey New Member

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    Yeah, that's a fair point. I'll see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, I can always cancel the contact.
     
  16. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    I' ll agree with @Veloci-Rapture in that there are better ways of writing that sentence. I too thought there were too many "ands". But you have something a lot of people here would be envious of-- a publisher. Listen to the one who wants to publish it. Let readers argue about it after they buy your book.

    Again, congrats!
     
  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    There are lots of red flags here. Are you not reviewing and accepting/rejecting editor changes?
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't know that I agree that this is a publisher. A one-man shop where the owner does his own editing is not how I define a publisher. It sounds like a possibly well-meaning guy who's doing the equivalent of self-publishing for other people, without charging a fee.
     
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  19. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Are you able to ask the editor to explain the change? He should be able to tell you why he thinks that sentence is better (but I think he's going to have a hell of a time, b/c the revised version is pretty nasty).
     
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  20. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ah. The wonderfully-named 'andelope,' as coined by BR Myers in his book A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose. He defines it as: a breathless string of simple declarative statements linked by the conjunction and.
     
  21. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    I love 'andelope'!

    I mean, I suppose context is important; sometimes I'll employ an andelope specifically for that feel of breathlessness, to create a sensation of racing thoughts in a situation that either emotionally or physically tense, to try to capture that blurry action shot idea. So maybe this sentence we're looking at falls into such a context within the rest of the narrative? I hadn't thought of that, although in such a case I'd put in a few more and really make it obvious it's for that effect.

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the tattered flesh spurted blood across the cart and dyed his gray beard crimson and splashed onto the ground and his mouth gaped open and the whole world moved in slow motion."

    No, still doesn't work. The sections would need to be shorter and less descriptive, more like:

    "Tex’s arm dropped to the ground and the stump spurted blood across the cart and turned his beard crimson and splashed onto the ground and his mouth gaped open and the whole world moved in slow motion."

    Hmm. Still needs work. But that's my point, anyway; I don't need to get lost in a hypothetical edit of a sentence that nobody asked me for.
     
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  22. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In fact, Myers says: "Not for nothing do thriller writers save this kind of breathless syntax for climatic scenes of violence:
    The andelope does have its uses.

    Myers was actually attacking a sentence written by the much-lauded Cormac McCarthy, excerpted from The Crossing :
    I mean, six 'ands' in that mundane, non-breathless sentence ...that's just silly, isn't it?
     
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  23. Veloci-Rapture

    Veloci-Rapture Member

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    Oh yeah, that's super silly.

    But then I don't know what's supposed to be high literary prose, so maybe that's the new thing. I mean, I also like a lot of lowbrow stuff like Imagine Dragons and cheesy kung-fu movies, so I may not exactly be the target audience here.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I like it. :)
     
  25. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Senior Member

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    There's only one tense in your sentence. "Dyeing his gray beard crimson" is a participial phrase and has no tense. Functionally, it's an adverb phrase changing how it spurted.

    Now it could be used in a way that gave it tense:

    He was dyeing his gray beard crimson. (verb, past continuous)​

    and with that there could be problems . . .

    He was dying his gray beard crimson and ate a hoagie. (unbalanced around "and," past continuous vs. simple past)​

    But that's not what you have in your sentence. Your type of construction is fine.
     

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