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Which sounds better?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Androxine Vortex, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    When she came to the base of the slope she saw branches being parted aside a few yards away.

    Or

    When she came to the base of the slope she saw branches parting aside a few yards away.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'd go with the second example. I can't think of any advantage to using "being parted" here.
     
  3. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    Second example, dropping the "being" gives the sentence more strenght
     
  4. Nightender

    Nightender Minstrel

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    Go with the second version. It's active writing, which is typically better in descriptions.
     
  5. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    thanks. The original version was the top sentence and it felt a little off. Thanks again!
     
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Have you thought about the sentence beginning "When she came..."?

    Sentences starting like that always read like steps in a process to me and not the actions of a character.
     
  7. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

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    I believe in always using the active verb over the passive verb.

    I'm not a fan of the double use of 'she' in such quick succession, so perhaps another alternative of beginning the sentence can be something along the lines of...

    'At the base of the slope..."
     
  8. advait98

    advait98 Sage

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    Sometimes that's acceptable. IMO, it actually deflects more attention onto the scene after a wait we don't want to describe. But of course, only if it's used sparingly.
    Congrats on becoming a mod by the way.
     
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Yes, I can see your point. Since the thread seemed directed towards the active sentence structure, I thought that perhaps a rewrite of the beginning would push the sentence farther in that direction (assuming that this is what the author wants).

    ...and thanks.
     
  10. Jessquoi

    Jessquoi Troubadour

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    To me all that happens here is the meaning of the sentence changes. The branches go from being passive of active. 'Being parted' sounds like something or someone is parting them, as opposed to the branches parting themselves. So really it depends what you want to say.
     
  11. Rob P

    Rob P Minstrel

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    The sentence could be shortened.

    Just a few yards from the base of the slope she saw branches parting aside.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, I thought of that as well. But since trees are generally immobile, I think in both instances something has to be doing the parting (wind, a creature, or whatever). Unless you've established the existence of ents or something like that.
     
  13. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    I thought of that as well. Because if I saw branches being parted, it sounds like some force is moving them. If I say I saw branches parting it sounds like they are doing it by themselves. I agree with what Steerpike said about branches being immobile but what about wind? Wind can move branches and I wouldn't want to let the reader think that it was the wind parting them.

    Are both versions correct, it just depends which one I decide to use? I see how one is more active and I'm trying very hard to improve my writing to make it more active but at the same time I think it reads a little funny. If I were to use the original (top) version, do you think it would be a problem? Thanks!
     
  14. Jessquoi

    Jessquoi Troubadour

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    Well tell us then, how ARE the branches parting? If it's not by the wind then how? That will give you the answer of how you should write it.
     
  15. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    Good point, maybe I should read a little further...

    When she came to the base of the slope she saw branches being parted aside a few yards away. A figure moved closer to Lira, shrouded by the darkness.

    So first you see something is moving in the woods. Then you realize its a person or something else (it is a person) but can't really tell what yet because it's dark outside.
     
  16. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    So, they're parting because a person is actively parting them. I think it should be written in passive voice.
     
  17. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I would avoid writing in passive voice in almost every case. It's not engaging to the reader. Sometimes you need to portray sentences in different ways to avoid passive writing.
     
  18. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    It won't let me quote people on my phone but how would you write/change the sentence?
     
  19. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Generally, I don't think it's a good idea to rewrite someone else's work.

    In the words of Neil Gaiman:
    "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

    Nonetheless, you can make the passage active by focusing the sentences on the action of the main subjects. There are two...the woman reaching the base of the slope & the figure moving in the shadows.

    In this example, show us the shadowy figure parting the branches OR show us movement behind & through the branches along with the emergence of the figure. There are many ways you could achieve this while avoiding passive writing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
    Androxine Vortex likes this.
  20. Jessquoi

    Jessquoi Troubadour

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    Seeing as in the next sentence you give reason for why the branches might be moving, I don't think you need to write it in passive. The reader can figure it out. I would leave out 'a few yards away', because for me personally I understand that she sees the trees at the bottom of the slope and that they can't be too far away otherwise she wouldn't see the branches parting. So, in an attempt to rewrite as little as possible (because I agree with T.Allan about rewriting and I remind you that you don't have to listen to a thing I say because it's YOUR writing :) )...

    When she came to the base of the slope she saw branches parting aside. A figure moved closer to Lira, shrouded by the darkness.
     
    Androxine Vortex likes this.
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