Monday, August 19, 2013

Who is what? Confusing sentence alert

I think there's a term for this-- there's a term for everything-- something about "squinting" because it makes you "squint" and look back to figure it out. Anyway, confusing sentence in a news article (names changed to avoid getting all politicky):

He is a friend of John Doe, the son of spiritual leader Don Doe, who was killed Friday.

Who was killed? I think John Doe, but maybe it's his dad. I can't immediately anyway figure out a way to make that clear. Can you?
Appositives are interruptives, and presumably you can just withhold that, and have:
He is a friend of John Doe,  who was killed Friday.
So I'd probably go with two sentences--
He is a friend of John Doe, who was killed Friday. John Doe was the son of ...

maybe getting rid of the comma ---

He is a friend of John Doe, the son of spiritual leader Don Doe who was killed Friday.

would make it clearly Don who was killed, so having the comma makes it John who was killed?

Well, I don't know. Don't put three people into a sentence as if they're all equally important, I guess. What's important? The friendship? The killing? The father-son relationship?

Sometimes I think the "need for a lede" misdirects journalistic writers. Everything doesn't actually have to be explained all in one sentence. That's why we have paragraphs. 


Good site

Our old friend Jami Gold has some really helpful worksheets for creating scenes. I love that kind of mind! Check it out--