This is going to bother me...

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sierramcconnell
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This is going to bother me...

Post by sierramcconnell » February 25th, 2011, 10:30 am

I was reading last night and I hit a sentence, paraphrasing here, but it's been annoying the heck out of me ever sense. It jarred me out of the book so badly that I couldn't go on. I don't know if it was because I was in edit mode or what but...

"I leaped toward the trees and dived into the snow."

As I said, paraphrasing and out of context it's not so bad. But in the tense she was in, it was all wrong.

Shouldn't it be LEAPT and DOVE?

"I leapt toward the trees and dove into the snow."

I read that thing fifteen times because it was just so...out of place. It was terrible. She was flashbacking and it hit me as so wrong. No, no. Leaped? No. That's not right. Leaped isn't...used. It's leapt! LEAPT!

And it just...took my relaxing read before bed away.

But a search shows you can use either. Sort of like the S' S'S thing. Gah...

What is right?
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by Quill » February 25th, 2011, 10:40 am

In cases where either way is correct I guess it comes down to how it sounds, which of course is subjective. Out of context as you present it, I agree with your choices.

Either way, though, I think "leapt (or leaped) toward" is awkward. Jumped toward the trees? Jumped toward AND Dived? Can't picture that.

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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by sierramcconnell » February 25th, 2011, 11:20 am

Yeah, I would have to put the whole paragraph, which was full of movement because it was an action scene. She was running and jumping and slicing and so on, and then suddenly, leaped. It was just there. And it just...didn't read right. Which is odd because the rest of the book I hadn't seen much in the way of bad anything. So far, it's a fairly decent book (aside from a few cliche-YA things such as being poor in school and not the most popular girl, yadayada. XD).

Of course, I've been told that a lot of things I learned in school are outdated and the UK version, which isn't acceptable.

UK version? Really? I went to school in Arkansas in the 90s. I don't think so... XD
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by Mike Dickson » February 25th, 2011, 12:50 pm

"I leaped" is indicative in UK simple form as a preterite (preterit in the U.S.). Preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place in the past. "I leapt" is also used and grammatically correct but mainly in the U.S.

"I dived" is also indicative in UK simple form as a preterite expressing actions that took place in the past.
"I dove" is mainly used in the U.S. as expressing past tense.

Long story short, both are correct, but I agree the UK version reads weird.

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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by polymath » February 25th, 2011, 1:41 pm

"I leaped toward the trees and dived into the snow."

The awkward diction and syntax of that sentence should have called attention to other issues prompting a recast. How does someone leap toward trees and dive into snow simultaneously? They are not simultaneous or concurrent actions. Not logical.

Also, an issue of author surrogacy, not so much problems with pronounced self-efficacy and self-idealization so much as it's a description of actions the first-person narrator cannot personally observe. Reads to me like an out of body experience.

Also, It's a recited summarization, a tell told remotely from the time, place, and person of the events. The narrator addresses readers directly. I'm seeing a slideshow lecturer. Narrative distance opens up so much I could drive a truck into it. At this point in the fight scene, I jumped toward those trees. And here's one of me diving into a snowbank.

Really, diving into snow? In order to dive into snow, the snow would need to be so deep and fresh no one could move around otherwise. Certainly not a fight scene setting.
Last edited by polymath on February 25th, 2011, 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by sierramcconnell » February 25th, 2011, 1:44 pm

If poly sees something wrong with it, I know I'm not completely insane. XD
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by Quill » February 25th, 2011, 1:59 pm

Sounds like it is meant to be concurrent, i.e. I leaped off the diving board toward the far side of the pool and dove into the water. One action, written awkward as all get out, but concurrent, or at least of closely sequential parts. Only with snow, polymath is right, not easy to do.

Agree that an editor should have flagged it.

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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by Sommer Leigh » February 25th, 2011, 2:24 pm

Once again, I love how smart this board is. Polymath, Quill and Mike, those were good explanations.

Sierra, that sentence made my head hurt too. I couldn't get past the two contradictory verbs to even deal with the grammar. I have a hard time picturing the sentence in my head, and while it might be possible somehow, it doesn't really work.

I read a lot of YA and now I am curious what book this is from. Will you PM me with the title? If it is on my TBR list I am going to keep an eye out for this line :-)
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by polymath » February 25th, 2011, 2:32 pm

It's a speed bump that calls attention to itself. Maybe a spike strip that flattens tires or a one-way traffic treadle, anyway, a bump in the road that makes the tires come off. Yeah, Quill, an editor should have questioned it.

Simple recast: //I dove toward a snowbank.//

I'm still not comfortable with an outside observer mediation reporting directly to readers though. Calls for a third person narrator. My concern is whether the action is a volitional act or a consequence of an instinctive action-reaction sequence. See the snowbank, feel the snowbank. Report sensations as perceived by a viewpoint character; don't summarize actions.

Good hunch, sierramcconnell.
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by trixie » February 27th, 2011, 12:23 pm

My brain just exploded reading that last paragraph in Poly's post. Man, I have A LOT to learn about writing.

But I agree, the sentence was strange. I can't bring myself to use the past tense of dive as dived. It just makes me feel twitchy, like when I read a paragraph and I'm pretty sure the verb tense switched so I have to re-read to see if I imagined it or not.

I really appreciated the clarification on UK English vs US English, though. Thanks for sharing that tidbit--very interesting!

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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by lac582 » March 2nd, 2011, 12:01 am

Thank you, Polymath. You make me feel so validated :)

Play-by-play first person narration drives me batty, and is a major reason I have trouble getting drawn into a lot of YA.

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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by polymath » March 2nd, 2011, 12:40 am

Wow, validations shared. You're welcome, lac582.

First person is tough. I'm most fond of third person inside looking out, which feels like first person close narrative distance, but seems closer. But really artfully executed first person is unbeatable for close narrative distance. Mark Richard's "Her Favorite Story" I'm partial to for its tragically beautiful close-close first person narration.
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Re: This is going to bother me...

Post by sarahdee » March 17th, 2011, 11:10 pm

Mike Dickson wrote: "I dived" is also indicative in UK simple form as a preterite expressing actions that took place in the past.
"I dove" is mainly used in the U.S. as expressing past tense.
As a dive instructor I hear this a lot. E.g. Americans tell me they have 'dove Egypt' and British speakers tend to have 'dived Egypt'. I checked the online Oxford dictionary which does have 'dove' in the past of dive sense but indicates it as US and the Cambridge dictionary just has 'dove' as a small white bird.

Maybe it is what a reader is used to be as an English English speaker I prefer 'dived'. 'Dove' to me sounds more brutal and brash (but that's just personal preference don't slate me).

If the book is American, I would expect it to have used dove.

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