Saturday, August 22, 2009

More PPP

Joan Mora said...Thanks Alicia,

You got me--I do obsess over each word.

Here's a before and after. The first one trips over itself. I didn't change the ending because the grandmother's spirit is the element I'd like to highlight. (If you didn't mean for me to copy a sentence here--apologies!)

Crossing the threshold, a powerful force struck Julianne, as though she were entering a different time, one in which her grandmother’s indelible spirit lived on.

Julianne maneuvered the threshold as though she entered a different time period, one in which her grandmother’s indelible spirit lived on.

I'd go with the progressive-- as though she were entering-- because entering could well be a progressive move, not a single discrete move.

You see why "crossing the threshold" is a dangling participle? The Powerful Force isn't crossing the threshold. So that was a great catch, to put Julianne as the subject of the action.

But what's wrong with "cross"? Maneuvered kind of implies that she's moving the threshold around rather than going through it. Negotiated? Moved through? But crossed is a good concise verb for thresholds.

Now IS she entering a different time period? "As though" means it only seems that way. (See, I'm still locked into what the threshold is like. Maybe it is a way to another dimension. :)

This is a bit clunky (one in which) for an already longish sentence:
one in which her grandmother’s indelible spirit lived on.
How about "where her grandmother's...."?

Just a thought.

This doesn't actually apply to yours because yours isn't that complex a sentence, but I want to note it while I'm thinking of it. With really long, complicated sentences, I think often we're trying to make the sentence do the work of a paragraph. The paragraph, not the sentence, explores an idea and its effects or examples or support or whatever. Often I think writers try to do that all in one sentence. You don't have to. The reader will assume (I hope with justification) that everything in a paragraph belongs together, supports something central. So don't make sentences bear too much weight, even-- or especially-- in a synopsis. Stop thinking in terms of sentences. Sentences' main role is to be part of a paragraph. :)

Alicia

8 comments:

Murphy said...

Hey, how about breached the threshold?

Edittorrent said...

Okay, but you know, that word always makes me go to my Fowler's British Usage (there's an American addition) because I can never remember:
Breached? Breeched? Broached?

They're actually all sort of similar in meaning, or can be.

But you're right, right? Breached?
Alicia

Murphy said...

How should I know which ones which. I'd just as soon leave that up to my editor to figure out. :D I'm kidding! I always think of it's not spelled with the double E because that one is for the double B breech birth.;)
Murphy

Deb Salisbury said...

I agree with Alicia - the sentence feels too long. I'd cut it up along these lines:

As[when?] she crossed the threshold, a powerful force struck Julianne. She felt as though[if?] she were entering a different time, one in which her grandmother’s indelible spirit lived on.

I know "feel" is one of the forbidden words, but unless she really is entering a different time (since I read a lot of fantasy, that would be my assumption), a sensation word may be the most accurate representation.

Edittorrent said...

I use feel all the time, Deb. People do feel, and they think, and I know they can be overused, but they can be underused too. :)

When would you use "as if" and when "as though?" As I say them out loud, I get a sense that the meaning is slightly different, but I can't put my finger on it.

Alicia

Jami G. said...

To me, "as if" sounds more...well, iffy, than "as though". I'd use "as if" for guesses and "as though" for assumptions, if that makes sense.

Jami G.

Deb Salisbury said...

I think "as though" sounds more formal than "as if" - purely a personal call. I do agree with Jami that "as if" sounds more speculative.

I often decide which to use out of fear of repetition: If I used "if" earlier in the paragraph, I'll write "as though." :-)

Joan Mora said...

Look what happens when I take a Saturday night off! Thanks for using my sentence and to all who commented.

To set up, it’s not fantasy, but it does have paranormal elements. The threshold is to an historic library, where her grandmother left a journal sixty years ago. She’s not entering a different time period, but she’ll run into a few ghosts inside.

I’ve been so conscious of the dreaded “ing.” Clearly here the progressive accurately describes her action. Also, I try to tighten so much, that sometimes my sentences should be expanded. I’ll be aware of that on my next round. Yes, I do see the dangling participle! How did I miss that? It’s good to know my character can feel. I tend to edit those out as well.

“Crossed” reflects her action. To me, "breach" connotes entering somewhere off-limits. I like changing “one in which” to “where” and also Deb’s suggestion of splitting the sentence because she did feel something as she crossed the threshold. I tried to accomplish that with “maneuver” but it didn’t work. Now, is “powerful force” cliché?

A grammar geek once told me “as though” might be used when the action is possible, but not true in this instance, and “as if” when the action is impossible or not likely. Or is it the other way around? I tend to use “as though” because I like the sound of it. “As if” reminds me of an overused ’80s phrase.

Thanks again for the help!