Grammar question

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Grammar question

Post by Holly » May 8th, 2010, 10:50 pm

Which is better, and is there a principle?

...pushing away the thought


...pushing the thought away

The unwritten end of the sentence might be ...pushing the thought away from his mind.
However, someone just went through my writing and reversed it.

Here's a second example:

He pulled his coat on [his shoulders] and closed the door.


He pulled on his coat and closed the door.

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Re: Grammar question

Post by izanobu » May 9th, 2010, 12:40 am

I think it totally depends on how you want the sentence read and what you want the emphasis on (or on what you want emphasis!). Being 100% grammatically correct in fiction is boring (in my opinion).

I personally think "he pulled on his coat and closed the door" reads more smoothly than the former example. But really, either seems fine. Story is king, as long as you what want to get across to the reader gets there, you're fine.

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Re: Grammar question

Post by daringnovelist » May 9th, 2010, 1:01 am

Pushed away, pulled on....

But as the person before me said, it depends on the voice whether that matters. Timing or emphasis may demand something else. (IMHO, a worse problem is the -ing word. Not "pushing" but "pushed.")


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Re: Grammar question

Post by poptart » May 9th, 2010, 6:38 am

Personally I would prefer:

pushing the thought away


He pulled on his coat and closed the door.

But any of them would do. I think it's clarity that matters most and you have to make that judgement yourself, as the previous posters have said.
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Re: Grammar question

Post by polymath » May 9th, 2010, 10:28 am

Better in informal or better in formal diction? Better diction is subjective. Diction depends on the register of a narrator's (or a viewpoint character's) relational standing and level of grammar formality. The register facet of narrative or character voice is in play. Register is the relationship of a narrator (addressor) to a narratee (addressee), who's addressing who, and a character or narrator's level of address formality. Eg, superior to subordinate, subordinate to superior, peer to peer, and a spectrum of rigidly formal diction to casually relaxed, informal diction possibilities. Diction is choice. Freedom of choice is a function of freedom of speech, freedom of expression.

The rigidly prescriptive formal grammar principle of syntax, a function of diction, demands subject, predicate, object clause sequencing in sentences and clauses. "Away" is an adverb modifying "pushing," the predicate clause's verb. "The thought from his mind" is the object clause of the predicate clause "pushing away".

Relaxed descriptive grammar principles require only clarity of meaning. Rhetorical purposes can't hurt, either.
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