Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Order


Hey readers, Annette here on our final Grammar Wednesday. Watch for Ocieanna's return next week. We're excited!

Today let’s talk about order.

As an editor, I see the issue of order come up often. What do I mean?

Three hints: It’s something you read all the time in published books. If you’ve ever written dialogue, you’ve probably done it. And it’s sort of against the rules.

Note that last point. It is sort of against the rules. Other editors will disagree that it’s a problem, hence all the published books with this infraction. Ahem, I mean preference. ;)

So, consider my advice, but know your publisher will have their own position on this order issue.

So, what is it? See if you can find it in the following sentence.

Carol tightened her hold on the doorknob and said between clenched teeth, “I don’t care if they did say they’d take care of it. That’s your job. Now, get it done!”

Did you see it? Let me fix it and then maybe it’ll stand out more.

Carol tightened her hold on the doorknob. “I don’t care if they did say they’d take care of it,” she said between clenched teeth. “That’s your job. Now, get it done!”

Now it makes more sense, right? It’s the “said” before what was said.

Worse, is when the author writes how something sounded before it sounded. Like:

Carol softened her tone, “I can see your point. Just be sure it gets done.”

OR

Carol softened her tone. “I can see your point. Just be sure it gets done.”

The mention of Carol’s softened tone should occur after she speaks. You can’t tell us how something sounded before it sounds. (Please forgive my mixing of tenses there; that is what I meant to do.) So, the better way to say it is:

“I can see your point.” Carol softened her tone. “Just be sure it gets done.”

Make sense?

Now that I’ve brought this to your attention, you’ll probably see this order issue everywhere, and it may even become a pet peeve. Sorry about that. ;)

Write on, but don't forget about order.

2 comments:

  1. As the FORMER worst offendder in the universe, this post made me smile. Some brilliant editors have taught me much and shown me the error of my ways! LOL! Great info, Annette - order really does make a difference. God bless. :-)

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  2. Hey Marianne, you aren't the only one. :) I keep seeing it in published books now that I'm on the lookout. And one day, it'll probably be completely fine to do it. They're all trends (like purist POV, etc.). For now, though, it's all about order. Blessings on your writing!

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