Author Topic: How should I punctuate this?  (Read 7870 times)

Lin

  • Guest
How should I punctuate this?
« on: October 03, 2010, 06:19:07 AM »
How should I punctuate this sentence for maximum impact.
I don't like it and I want to know how someone else might write this. The situation here is that it's important to the story.  


The woman bent forward to pick up her purse,  her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights, her toes, squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

Anything at all you can change here to make it sound annoying to the main character Pippa, because the next lines are:-

Looking embarrassed and hurt she turned to face Pippa  
 'Sorry, are you ok?’ the woman asked
   Pippa bit her lip. In heels that high, no wonder she tripped!    She was a long way from ‘ok.’ How she hated mornings.


I'm on the editing stages of my novel now.  So every line counts.



Lin x
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 06:21:05 AM by Orangutansaver »

Offline Hugh

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1693
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2010, 06:47:23 AM »
I think there are several ways you could do it. Here’s one:

The woman bent forward to pick up her purse, her black skirt showing the line at the top of her pink tights. Her toes were squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

Or you could use semi-colons, but they seem to be going out of fashion these days. Or you could make it three separate sentences, with full stops. I feel that the “toes squashed into ill-fitting shoes” doesn’t belong with the bending over and showing her knicker line, but I could be wrong — after all, I’m a bloke; what do I know about such things?

Hugh

Offline Nick

  • Nick Daws
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5920
  • Retired from running MWC but still writing!
    • Entrepreneur Writer
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 06:47:55 AM »
You're trying to cram too much into one sentence there, Lin. I'd probably do it like this:

The woman bent forward to pick up her purse. Her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights. Her toes were squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Lin

  • Guest
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 07:34:05 AM »
Trust you Nick to get it right every time! LOL  - Thanks so much.  Yes, too much in there, I agree.  Sometimes I just don't see it. I think my confidence goes up and down like the proverbial gooseberry in a lift! I'm green and  sometimes this writing thing is very hairy.   

Thanks Hugh as well.  The woman has tripped on her luggage and spilt her tea on the station platform hence the 'ill fitting shoes' and 'no wonder she tripped.'

Lin x



Offline ma100

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30526
  • I don't need kinky boots, nothing will beat me.
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2010, 07:59:52 PM »
Perhaps it's just me as nobody else has mentioned it, but how does a black skirt show a pink line of tights?

I agree you are trying to squash too much in maybe.

Quote
The woman bent forward to pick up her purse,  her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights, her toes, squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

When the woman bent over for her purse, her hem line framed the top her pink tights.

The woman bent over for her purse and displayed tommorows washing. >:D Sorry Lin, I couldn't resist.

I too don't feel the shoes have any relevance. She tripped, we all have two left feet now and again.

Lin

  • Guest
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2010, 03:06:45 AM »
Well here it is so far.  I'm going to post this with further questions in the Review My Work Section so no need to comment here about this para overall, but please do in the Review thread. This is so you guys can see the real thing in All the Write Questions.

In a careless moment, a young woman tripped on a suitcase and spilt her tea. A plastic cup lay on the
platform at Darlington station as the milky liquid cascaded over the seat.
    Instinctively, Pippa jerked her feet back to avoid the mess.   Her denim jeans caught the splashes. Not another one of those days? The woman heard a depressive sigh.  
    As she bent forward to retrieve her purse, her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights. Her toes were squashed into ill-fitting shoes.
   Looking embarrassed and hurt she turned to face Pippa. 'Sorry, are you ok?’
   Pippa bit her lip. In heels that high, no wonder she tripped!   She was a long way from ‘ok.’ How she hated mornings.
             ‘Yes thank you.’ Pippa replied. She didn't mean to appear rude. Bidding her farewell to Rob, hadn’t been a favorable experience. He could, at least, have kissed her goodbye.  She wouldn’t see him for three weeks and what the heck was she doing boarding a train on her own for the first time without him?  

Please feel free to comment on the question in hand.

Lin x
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 03:12:10 AM by Orangutansaver »

Offline A.J.B

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1802
  • Enjoying bouts of moderate insanity
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2010, 08:52:02 AM »
You're trying to cram too much into one sentence there, Lin. I'd probably do it like this:

The woman bent forward to pick up her purse. Her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights. Her toes were squashed into ill-fitting shoes.

Nick  :)

I would agree. It did sound like there was too much going on. I think Nick has the right of it with his suggestion, but there is always the option of making it two sentences instead of three like has been suggested. Both work (two sentences would be more my way of writing than three, however).
My debut novel 'Life Eternal' is now available to buy on Amazon in both paperback and kindle.

Please search 'Aaron J Booth' on Amazon to find the product.

Offline deborahowen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 348
  • Goal: Help each writer reach their full potential
    • Creative Writing Institute
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2010, 10:18:59 PM »
Two comments on this part:  "Pippa bit her lip. In heels that high, no wonder she tripped!   
She was a long way from ‘ok.’ How she hated mornings."

(1) You expressed her thoughts properly (in italics) but it's a mortal sin to use omniscient tense these days.
(2) And when you use the word "okay", don't abbreviate it.

You have an interesting and engaging style of writing. I like it. :)

Best, Deb

Deborah Owen :)
CEO & Founder
Creative Writing Institute
http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com
Writing tutor/public speaker/editor/ghostwriter
Free tips at http://www.deborahowen.wordpress.com

Offline Foxy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1935
  • Yaar
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 03:58:18 AM »
(2) And when you use the word "okay", don't abbreviate it.

Both forms of okay are acceptable, but when using the abbreviated form it should be capitalised, OK.  ;)

My novel, Trinity, available from Amazon.
UK http://tinyurl.com/7fq8rzt  US http://tinyurl.com/7ecvkom

Blog: One Loose Cannon http://wp.me/2fgNI

Book Covers and artwork: http://patrickfox.crevado.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PatrickFox_

Offline Pollythumper

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 08:55:05 AM »


   Hi Lin,

   How does this sound?

   
As she bent forward to retrieve her purse, her black skirt showed the line at the top of her pink tights.  Her toes squashed like trotters, into ill fitting shoes.

Maybe describes the character a little more?
                                                           Pol

Offline WoodridgeNZ

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 687
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2010, 05:29:48 AM »
... but it's a mortal sin to use omniscient tense these days.

Hi Deb, if you're still following this thread, what do you mean by "omniscient tense"?

Thanks.

Offline deborahowen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 348
  • Goal: Help each writer reach their full potential
    • Creative Writing Institute
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 12:29:38 AM »
I mispoke. The proper phrase is omnisicient voice, which means you're telling what the character is thinking - one of the biggest no-no's in writing these days. If you reveal what a character is thinking, you must write it in italics and without quotes, but omniscient voice isn't selling right now so I advise you to stay clear of it.

The reason it isn't selling is because it "tells" rather than "shows". Newbies lay on this rather heavily as omniscient voice is a shortcut that keeps them from slaving away at Show, Don't Tell.

One thing that is ever-changing with editors is what they do or don't buy. Every two or three years the rules change and when one changes, they all change. The "in" thing right now is using Show, Don't Tell, don't use adverbs that end in, don't use omniscient voice, and don't use more than three prepositional phrases in a sentence (and no more than two in consecutive order). Semi-colons are no longer appreciated and don't use more than one exclamation mark per thousand words.

A great way to reveal new information is through dialogue, either through another character or through the narrator. Hope that helps.

Deb
Deborah Owen :)
CEO & Founder
Creative Writing Institute
http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com
Writing tutor/public speaker/editor/ghostwriter
Free tips at http://www.deborahowen.wordpress.com

Lin

  • Guest
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 03:24:19 AM »
I beg to differ in this debate.  If you read the latest Audrey Niffenegger  "Her Fearful Symmetry"  her characters are all thinking internally! And it sells. It was brilliant and the internal dialogue did it for me.   I know it was three years ago or more and rules change, but my style of writing calls for this and this is not a cop out for not showing, its the way my style develops and my character is this way - always thinking, thinking she has no-one else to turn to. She has to think internally otherwise the -'she thought' gets boring.

  I don't think this will be a problem. My character is on a train by herself so cannot have dialogue - I mean is she going to tell the whole train about her problems and have discussions with everyone.  No, I dont think this would work in my case  Rules may change but I shall only do that when the big editor comes along and says - 'sorry but we dont want internal dialogue.'  This is my final draft until it goes to my agent and then we shall see from there.  I say like it as it is and if there is a glimmer of hope I will go with it.  This is my book and if it's good enough for our Audrey, it will do for me too.  

I know that might sound as if I am not looking at the big picture.  But so far no-one has told me to change it and it's been read by so many people and professionals too - authors who also use internal dialogue.  This is my unique style - love me or hate me.

On the day it's all about who reads it and if they like it. Amen.

Thanks Deborah for your comments - much appreciated that you clarified the situation, but rules and there to be broken!


Offline WoodridgeNZ

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 687
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 06:27:35 AM »
I mispoke. The proper phrase is omnisicient voice, which means you're telling what the character is thinking - one of the biggest no-no's in writing these days. If you reveal what a character is thinking, you must write it in italics and without quotes, but omniscient voice isn't selling right now so I advise you to stay clear of it.

The reason it isn't selling is because it "tells" rather than "shows". Newbies lay on this rather heavily as omniscient voice is a shortcut that keeps them from slaving away at Show, Don't Tell.

One thing that is ever-changing with editors is what they do or don't buy. Every two or three years the rules change and when one changes, they all change. The "in" thing right now is using Show, Don't Tell, don't use adverbs that end in, don't use omniscient voice, and don't use more than three prepositional phrases in a sentence (and no more than two in consecutive order). Semi-colons are no longer appreciated and don't use more than one exclamation mark per thousand words.

Wow! What a lot of rules, Deb! Sounds as though this "omniscient voice" is internal dialogue, right? I've just read Dan Brown's latest, and he uses that a lot, and uses it well (he keeps me up late because I can't put the book down!). And, surely, that's the key thing: not to overuse any one technique and to use each to good effect. It's interesting to know what's hot/not for publishers, but I don't think this will change the way I write. I generally write from the POV of just one character (at a time), so I don't quite see how the thoughts/internal dialogue of that character could be seen as "omniscient".

Re Lin's book, I'm with her on this one.

BTW, in your list of rules, is there something missing here? (Just curious.)
don't use adverbs that end in


Offline Foxy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1935
  • Yaar
Re: How should I punctuate this?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 09:28:36 AM »
The proper phrase is omnisicient voice, which means you're telling what the character is thinking - one of the biggest no-no's in writing these days.

Omniscient voice (sometimes known as head hopping) is a narrative style in which the author and reader observe the situation through the senses and thoughts of more than one character. It can also reveal things that none of the characters are aware of, rather like an all-seeing god's eye point of view.

If you reveal what a character is thinking, you must write it in italics and without quotes . . .

As I read it, apart from the line about hearing a depressive sigh, Lin is using third-person limited point of view, which only reveals what can be seen, known or thought from a single character's point of view. In this viewpoint it is common to reveal the character's thoughts. Read any modern novel and you will see that thoughts are punctuated in the same way as dialogue but without the quotation marks. Thoughts in italics usually, though not always, indicate direct immediate thought in past tense narrative, whether it be in third-person or first-person.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 01:17:44 PM by Foxy »
My novel, Trinity, available from Amazon.
UK http://tinyurl.com/7fq8rzt  US http://tinyurl.com/7ecvkom

Blog: One Loose Cannon http://wp.me/2fgNI

Book Covers and artwork: http://patrickfox.crevado.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PatrickFox_