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Would someone parse and explain to me what is wrong with this screwy sentence?

 
 
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2015 02:43 pm
I have been wracking my brain about this sentence which I will show you below. There is something wrong with it. I'll provide the first sentence to give context, but it is the second sentence giving me pause:

The alarm on her phone awoke her twenty minutes too late. *The assumption being she either set the time incorrectly the night before or resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though neither were true.*

The second sentence is fraught - although with what, I do not know. First thing: By putting the "the assumption being" am I throwing the whole action into present tense? Also, adding a comma between "the night before" and "or" would make it more readable, but it feels incorrect to me. The insert of "took weak" could be referring to the "phone," although I think adding the "her" pronoun clears this up. And adding that last piece, "though neither were true," flows well to me, but is it confusing? Grammatically, is this sentence correct?

I'm way too close to this to step back and see it objectively. It is the opening lines of a story that I wrote. Now that I'm rewriting it, I am getting stumped on this sentence. Since I am unable to give myself the necessary distance, I can only vaguely see a problem with this. I know there is something wrong, though as to what I am not sure. It's kinda making me re-think any structural or grammatical knowledge I thought I knew.

If someone would be so kind as to explain to me what is going on with this sentence grammatically, I would be eternally grateful. Any suggestions would be highly, highly welcome. Thanks guys.
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 1,069 • Replies: 8
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jespah
 
  0  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2015 04:59 pm
@maxusphineas,
maxusphineas wrote:
The assumption being she either set the time incorrectly the night before or resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though neither were true.


You're right. That's an ugly ass sentence. For one thing, I think the tense needs to be set in the past, which would make it even longer and more hideous, e. g.

Quote:
The assumption being that she had either set the time incorrectly the night before or had resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though neither were true.


Stop the madness. Split it into two or three sentences instead.

2 sentences wrote:
One assumption was that she had either set the time incorrectly the night before. Or maybe she had resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though neither were assumption was true.


3 sentences wrote:
One assumption was that she had either set the time incorrectly the night before. Or maybe she had resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though Neither were assumption was true.


I prefer the 3-sentence structure, hereby shown without all of the corrections:

3 sentences clean wrote:
One assumption was that she had set the time incorrectly the night before. Or maybe she had resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow. Neither assumption was true.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2015 05:21 pm
@maxusphineas,
maxusphineas wrote:
The alarm on her phone awoke her twenty minutes too late. *The assumption being she either set the time incorrectly the night before or resisted the onslaught of digital wailing her phone dutifully provided, too weak to will herself from her pillow, though neither were true.*
You are the writer. Are you prepared to assert license?
Rewrite from different perspective(s)
Not necessarily better; just different:
The alarm on her phone awoke her twenty minutes too late. Had she set the alarm incorrectly the night before? Or, too weak to will herself from her pillow, had she somehow resisted the the onslaught of digital wailing her phone so dutifully provided? Neither was true.
layman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2015 06:14 pm
@neologist,
I agree with both you and Jespah, Neo, but, for what it's worth, I like your formulation (in the form of questions) better.

But, since they are questions (and therefore not making an assertion that could be true or false) it might be better to end with something like: "The answer to each question was "no."
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2015 06:31 pm
@layman,
Good point. Try a few ways and pick one that suits your style
0 Replies
 
knaivete
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2015 12:37 am
@maxusphineas,
Congratulations on writing the short story Baby at Bat, it's a good read.

I have no problem with the syntax in the second sentence, ( prescriptivists may baulk at "neither" without a "nor"), however this and some other sentences are a bit prolix.

I enjoyed the neologism "earnesty" on page 73 although you may want to rethink "umber sky" on page 212 (lol).

What about woke instead of awoke?

layman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2015 11:45 am
@knaivete,
Quote:
prescriptivists may baulk at "neither" without a "nor"),


They might also balk at "baulk." Believe me, I don't give a ****, just having some fun, that's all.
knaivete
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 11:37 pm
@layman,

Colour me purple and call me a jejune jackanapes for using an alternative spelling.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  0  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2015 02:12 am

Quote:
What about woke instead of awoke?


Wakened works for me. Woke is oke. Awoke is wrong.
0 Replies
 
 

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