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Archive for October 5th, 2010

Split Personality #2When characters do the unlikely, impossible, or uncomfortable, they’re called Contorting Characters.

Characters often contort when you create compound sentences.  Sometimes the contortions aren’t horrible, and the reader will probably understand what the writer intended.

For instance, Jim walked across the room and looked out the door. By using and, it’s implied that Jim was looking out the door at the same time he crossed the room, which is certainly possible, but perhaps not what the author intended.  At best, it’s unclear, since the author could have meant that Jim crossed the room TO look out the door, or crossed the room and THEN looked out the door.

AND implies things occur at the same time.

TO and THEN imply a chronological order to events.

In our example about Jim, it probably isn’t a big deal if the reader misconstrues our meaning.  After all, whether Jim looks out the door as he’s walking, after he’s walking, or is walking across the room with the purpose of looking out the door may not make that much difference.

Sometimes, however, authors can have their characters doing the impossible.

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