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Writer’s Log: 1488 Nuances of clause placement

‘Milly paused, wiped her lace handkerchief across her brow, and looked up, startled, to find Antonio sitting upon the impatient stallion, staring intently at her, later that afternoon.’

I’ve been editing Blue Across the Sea, my first, anxiously anticipated novel and, as I do so, I find numerous occasions where I flip, mix, or bludgeon a sentence with improper clause placement.

The above sentence is contrived, but serves to represent various issues, or what might be issues regarding the placement of clauses. Primarily among them is the concept of time.

My case in point: “later that afternoon.” Notice how I stuck that at the end. Now, why would I do that? Inexperience is usually the culprit. But, as I start to rearrange BATS, I find that I must reconsider these strange compilations of sentence structure. Do I want to leave the concept of time for the end? Or would moving it to the middle or the beginning be more appropriate?

‘Later that afternoon, Milly paused, wiped her lace handkerchief across her brow, and looked up, startled, to find Antonio sitting upon the impatient stallion, staring at her intently.’

Here we move time to the front of the sentence. That feels more comfortable — setting the context of the final intense interaction of Antonio and Milly to occur at the end — the punch.

But maybe I want to emphasize the time-of-day as more important than Milly and her beau.

‘Milly paused, wiped her lace handkerchief across her brow, and looked up, startled, to find Antonio sitting upon the impatient stallion, staring intently at her, later that afternoon. The storm had built in the heat of the day and the winds now competed for the young woman’s attention.’

Or maybe, as one might hope, with the modified emphasis, we follow through with Antonio’s intentions and take the reader into the lurid and steamy…

‘Later that afternoon, Milly paused, wiped her lace handkerchief across her brow, and looked up, startled, to find Antonio sitting upon the impatient stallion, staring at her intently. He slid from the saddle, strode forward and snatched her kerchief lifting it to his nose in a deep, fulfilling breath.’

It all depends on what comes AFTER the clause. This is the lesson I’m having to teach myself. (A ruler smacks swiftly down upon Anonymole’s knuckles, bad Anonymole, bad!).