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Arggghhh! Make It STOP!

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Xaysai, May 26, 2013.

  1. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling

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    So I just spent the last 30 minutes hung up on the following opening sentence:

    It doesn't seem necessary to say "single strand of silk" because we know there will always be only one strand.

    It also doesn't seem necessary to say that it "slowly lowered itself" because I've never seen a spider lower itself at any speed other than slow, but "slowly" does seem to lend itself to the insidiousness/creepiness of the spider's actions.

    But then I ask myself: "if I just say the 'spider lowered itself', the reader should know that I mean by a 'strand of silk', right"

    I think that I like beginning with "The spider..." rather than "From/By a strand of silk...", but I don't know why.

    I also like "...from the nose of the Captain of the Guard" better than "...from the Captain of the Guard's nose", but I don't know why.

    I think I might be over-thinking it.

    Someone make it stop.
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Just my two cents' worth, but I like #5 the best: "The spider lowered itself on a strand of silk, stopping inches from the nose of the Captain of the Guard."
     
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  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I like the #2 The spider lowered itself by a strand of silk, stopping inches from the Captain of the Guard's nose... *shrug*.

    And yes you're overthinking at least right now. I get like this sometimes. From my experience, the best ones tend to be within the first 10 or so. Once you get to that point it tends to get near impossible to tell which is really the best. What I do is mark the sentence and all the versions with brackets and leave them in place and keep writing. Come back later with a fresh outlook then judge.

    Right now, t doesn't matter if it's not as smooth as you want. You have the essence of what you want, so it's all there for you to dig out later.
     
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  4. Rantz

    Rantz Acolyte

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    It's easy to get hung up and obsessive about the phrasing of a line, especially if you care at all about the quality of your work. To prevent myself from doing that, I have a self-imposed rule that i do not re-read or edit or tweak ANYTHING until the first draft is done.

    ...


    ...


    Then, I spend a truly idiotic amount of time on editing.
     
    Xaysai likes this.
  5. kayd_mon

    kayd_mon Sage

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    I watch spiders work their webs all the time. Sometimes they do move quickly.
     
  6. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I don't mean to drive you even more insane Xaysai, but is it important for the reader to know that it's the Captain of the Guard? Can it just be a guard?

    Aside from that I agree that #5 is best.
     
  7. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    I have been there. Oh, have I ever. Most recently I rewrote the phrase "cracked one eyelid" about thirty times before going back to the original, and then during a readthrough session one of my co-authors said it needed work. :mad:

    This is one situation where more elaborate language could help. Find a synonym or near synonym for "lowered" that better fits the image you want to get across. I'm typing this in bed with the lights off so as not to disturb my sleeping husband, or else I would consult my two honest-to-gosh paper thesauri (both Roget's, one modern Super Thesaurus and one 1890s version with an alphabetical index and some really cool words) for a list of options. If you're on a Mac, the built-in dictionary/thesaurus is the best digital one I've found; the second best is a smartphone app called WordBook. Replacing that word entirely, rather than rearranging the sentence over and over, might unlock something.
     
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  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Your problem reminds me of the movie "Throw Momma From the Train". The first five or ten minutes are all on Billy Crystal going nuts over his opening line. But you got farther, you actually finished the sentence. He couldn't get past "The night was...".
     
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  9. advait98

    advait98 Sage

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    I admire your situation. It would have taken me days to come up with all that if I wanted to.

    For me, #1 is the best. It captures what you're trying to say the best and most concisely, in my opinion.

    Here's something to make you more crazy. Anyone notice that when you say 'the Captain of the Guard's nose', it sounds like the Guard's nose has a captain? Those times when grammar really is a pain in the neck.
     
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  10. Justin Cary

    Justin Cary Dreamer

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    Even if this is your final edit, I hope you have moved on by now. Your work is not, nor will it ever be perfect, but it will never be DONE if you spend too much time writing toward perfection. Stop writing this sentence and write the next one. Any of the alternative you suggested will work and as you can see the opinions on the best vary. Whatever you have on the page right now, keep it and keep writing. Good luck and don't let this spider catch you in its web again. :)
     
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