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punctuation

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:10 am
by nightlock
I like to write my stories as though I am merely transcribing a story someone is telling me. Spoken sentences however often have sub-sentences. An example:

The nobility kept squabbling over land rights and titles.
vs
The nobility, as they are wont to do, kept squabbling over land rights and titles.


This example works both with and without the "...as they are wont to do..." sub-sentence and in this particular case the punctuation is clear because the sub-sentence does not break the flow of the main one. But sometimes these subs are asides, as in this example:

The nobility, as always, kept squabbling over land rights and titles.


The sub "...as always..." clearly breaks the flow of the sentence and is meant as an aside, spoken in a different tone of voice maybe even whispered if said nobility was within earshot. The comma's separating this sub and main are not quite as clear anymore and it almost feels like it requires parenthesis instead:

The nobility (as always) kept squabbling over land rights and titles.


Since I favour long sentences, this kind of thing actually happens quite often to me. And I am never quite sure on how to arrange the punctuation. Comma's or parenthesis?

Re: punctuation

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:10 pm
by The Master
I think parenthetical asides are a bit unusual for most prose. Commas are, in fact, intended to serve that purpose (see what I did there?) I'm not sure why you believe that the first example doesn't break the sentence flow because it does in the same way as the second.

Perhaps this structure would preserve the flow you are looking for better:
As always, the nobility kept squabbling over land rights and titles.

or possibly with a slight change:
The nobility kept squabbling over land rights and titles as they always seem to do.

Re: punctuation

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:20 am
by nightlock
I don't know. I tend to get an overload of comma's in my text and some feel superfluous until I take them out and it feels even weirder. I did see what you did there, twice even. So what made you use the parenthesis there?

Re: punctuation

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:24 pm
by ShawnMichel
The question isn't ultimately about long versus short sentences, but: who is doing the talking in the bit under review; what are their thoughts; and would one form serve better than the other?

Both sentences work: but one works better than the other, given the POV. If it's the narrator doing the thinking out loud here, then what angle is the narrator thinking from? In the end, there's no such thing as an all-encompassing omniscient voice--just one that chooses a particular viewpoint at a particular time.

Re: punctuation

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:42 pm
by NeoScribe
I agree with the post above me. The tone of the work can shape the sentence structure. A third person narrator who is telling the story without any shade of characterization might work with the more formal tone, the first sentence with the commas. On the other hand, if the narration is reflective of the character that is being written about, briefer, cut up sentences like the one with parenthesis would look well too.

That's just my rambling thoughts, though. So long as you are consistent, I think either way works fine.