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Thread: Continuing the 'that' question


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Permlink Replies: 24 - Pages: 2 [ Previous | 1 2 ] - Last Post: Nov 6, 2017 10:06 AM Last Post By: resteasy
beachgardener

Posts: 369
Registered: 06/13/11
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 5, 2017 7:55 AM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
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Wilai Lattimore wrote:
This is a sentence I have just written and I'd like the forums opinion. Is the 'that' necessary, or not?

He couldn't hit me, because he was holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other, but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free.


Had I written the sentence in question I would do three things to it as I edited. A period after other. Drop the but and remove that. It strengthens the sentence(s).
B
Salamander Mall...

Posts: 296
Registered: 10/16/17
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 5, 2017 1:11 PM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
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Wilai Lattimore wrote:
This is a sentence I have just written and I'd like the forums opinion. Is the 'that' necessary, or not?

He couldn't hit me, because he was holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other, but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free.


He wanted to hit me. Had his hands been free, I'd've been decked. Thank god for the bowl in one hand, spoon in the other.
thrasherll

Posts: 5,048
Registered: 06/27/12
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 5, 2017 3:22 PM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
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Wilai Lattimore wrote:
This is the complete paragraph.

He couldn't hit me, because he was holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other, but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free. His eyes narrowed as he slipped the spoon in my mouth. The moment he withdrew it, he whacked me on the head with it!


Omit the first comma. He couldn't hit me because of some reason or other doesn't need a comma. I like the second comma (after *other*); it breaks up a long sentence. If you type it without the comma and read it aloud or -- better yet -- ask someone else to read it aloud, you'll probably hear a slight pause there while whoever's reading it takes a half-second to figure out where they're going.

but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free. wanted to.

L. L. Thrasher

Edited by: thrasherll on Nov 5, 2017 3:22 PM
I forgot brackets turn text blue. I stuck a space in so they won't

Edited by: thrasherll on Nov 5, 2017 3:23
Well, that didn't work. I just skipped the whole brackets thing.

Edited by: thrasherll on Nov 5, 2017 3:24 PM
resteasy

Posts: 771
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 5, 2017 6:00 PM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
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Wilai Lattimore wrote:
This is the complete paragraph.

He couldn't hit me, because he was holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other, but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free. His eyes narrowed as he slipped the spoon in my mouth. The moment he withdrew it, he whacked me on the head with it!


I'd suggest:

He wanted to hit me. I could see the fury in his face. But a bowl held by him in one hand and a spoon in the other prevented the attack. His eyes narrowed, venting anger with a painful thrust of the spoon into my mouth then pulling it to give a sweeping head whack.
Wilai Lattimore

Posts: 449
Registered: 01/15/14
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 2:42 AM   in response to: thrasherll in response to: thrasherll
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'Would have' suggests a positive action, while 'Wanted to' suggests doubt... Am I reading that correctly?.
Brad the wronger

Posts: 171
Registered: 07/13/17
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 7:32 AM   in response to: resteasy in response to: resteasy
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He wanted to hit me.
Unless you're a mind reader, you don't know what he wanted in that situation. You've cheated the reader by telling them something. He looked, acted, seemed like isn't much better. What were the cues that made it look like he wanted to hit you? What does a person look like when they're angry, specifically that character? Stick a bowl in his hand. Now, write the scene so the reader experiences that.
Wilai Lattimore

Posts: 449
Registered: 01/15/14
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 8:19 AM   in response to: Brad the wronger in response to: Brad the wronger
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This is first person so I disagree. The reader is reading my thoughts and I judged that he would have hit me because of his expression. I don't TELL the reader what his expression looks like, I leave it up to their imagination. I haven't cheated the reader at all.
Brad the wronger

Posts: 171
Registered: 07/13/17
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 8:36 AM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
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The reader needs to see the expression, otherwise you're mind reading. That's the laziest cop out in writing. You want to incite emotions in the reader, have them standing there next to you, wanting to protect you in the scene, not watching from outside the room peeking in the window. The very basic tenet of storytelling is to draw readers or listeners into the story. Campfire ghost stories aren't very interesting if they aren't scary.
Wilai Lattimore

Posts: 449
Registered: 01/15/14
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 9:12 AM   in response to: Brad the wronger in response to: Brad the wronger
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I agree entirely with your statement (Straight from the manual). But my reader is standing next to me, feeling what I feel and seeing what I see. How you could interpret the sentence to sound as if the reader is looking in from outside a window is beyond me.
resteasy

Posts: 771
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: Continuing the 'that' question
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:06 AM   in response to: Brad the wronger in response to: Brad the wronger
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Brad the wronger wrote:
He wanted to hit me.
Unless you're a mind reader, you don't know what he wanted in that situation. You've cheated the reader by telling them something. He looked, acted, seemed like isn't much better. What were the cues that made it look like he wanted to hit you? What does a person look like when they're angry, specifically that character? Stick a bowl in his hand. Now, write the scene so the reader experiences that.
Wilai Lattimore wrote:
This is the complete paragraph.
He couldn't hit me, because he was holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other, but I could tell by his expression that he would have, if his hands were free. His eyes narrowed as he slipped the spoon in my mouth. The moment he withdrew it, he whacked me on the head with it!


Wilai started 'he couldn't hit me'. To me that suggests the character unfolding the narrative has it in mind the person with the bowl and spoon is conveying body language to that effect. Wilai confirms that by writing 'I could tell by his expression he would have.' ie, if he wasn't holding the items. Hence my rewrite starting 'he wanted to hit me', which I believe is more impactive.

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