Please explain to me...


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  1. #1

    Please explain to me...

    Why this sentence and others that are similar are not grammatical, according to a beta. They don't explain why it isn't at all, other than they point out every instance of it throughout my manuscript. No examples as to how to fix it. (They do this a lot, point out things they think is wrong but don't explain why. Frustrating.)

    “Nonsense,” Jennie said, and grabbed Millie's hand. dialogue continues

    Should the action be separated by a period from the dialogue and its tag? Is that the issue? I know if I wanted the action to happen at the same time as the dialogue is being spoken, I would exclude the word "and" and change "grabbed" to "grabbing", but that's not what I want to convey. So should it have been written like this:

    “Nonsense,” Jennie said. She grabbed Millie's hand. dialogue continues

    Also I would ask the beta but they don't seem to want to reply to my last email, so I guess we're done.
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  2. #2
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Get rid of the comma before the conjunction.

    Or “... as she grabbed Millie’s hand.”
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  3. #3
    It's totally fine, IMO. You may want to make it a little clearer the action is happening concurrent to the dialogue: “Nonsense,” Jennie said, while grabbing Millie's hand.

    "And" doesn't necessarily indicate they are done at the same time, as in "We spent the day watching movies and walking round the mall".

    Bear in mind its not a betas job to tell you how to fix problems, especially not with SPaG. They aren't your editor.





  4. #4
    Member Umree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    Get rid of the comma before the conjunction.

    Or “... as she grabbed Millie’s hand.”
    I agree with this. Seems like kind of a nit-picky thing for a reader to gripe about though.

  5. #5
    'Jennie said, grabbing Millie's hand' flows way better imo
    Dead by Dawn!

  6. #6
    I agree that it is too fine a point to deserve specific mention from a beta reader, but will consider the technical fineness anyway.

    Putting the dialogue before the dialogue tag tends to give the reader the impression that the dialogue itself is the subject of the sentence rather than the speaker, so “Nonsense,” Jennie said can be perceived as being equivalent to “Nonsense,” was said by Jennie even though strictly this is just a perception and not the grammatical reality. Continuing the sentence with grabbing Millie's hand allows the reader to perceive the dialogue and Jennie as joint subjects of the sentence rather than Jennie exclusively being the subject, as and grabbed Millie's hand demands. One could even argue that your original wording suggests that it was the dialogue that grabbed Millie's hand rather than Jenny, which makes no sense, so and grabbed Millie's attention would have caused no such objections, just to demonstrate the underlying problem, although grabbing Millie's attention would still flow better.

    Putting the dialogue tag first is another way of avoiding the issue as Jennie said “Nonsense,” and grabbed Millie's hand unambiguously makes Jennie the enduring subject of the sentence and the dialogue an object. It is, as I said, a very fine and debatable point though.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by tepelus View Post
    “Nonsense,” Jennie said, and grabbed Millie's hand. dialogue continues
    The grammatical issue is that you're separating two compound predicates [said... grabbed] with a comma [said, and grabbed]. technically you don't use a comma to separate compound predicates: "Nonsense,” Jennie said and grabbed Millie's hand. But I can see why this is a bit 'clumpy' on arrangement. The dialogue is throwing the rhythm of the compound predicates off. E.g., instead of: Sue lives in England and speaks Welsh, you mix the order of the compound predicates: Jennie said "nonsense" and grabbed Millie's hand v nonsense, Jennie said and grabbed Millie's hand.

    If you want to keep your word order: which is okay to do, and you don't want to use 'grabbed, whilst, as' etc, you just need to slow the logical process a little more.

    "Nonsense,” Jennie said, then grabbed Millie's hand. "Run."

    or

    "Nonsense,” Jennie said -- then grabbed Millie's hand. "Run."

    or

    "Nonsense,” Jennie said; then she grabbed Millie's hand.

    "Nonsense," Jennis said -- then she grabbed Millie's hand. "RUN."

    It just depends on what the context is. I prefer 'grabbing, as,' etc, mostly because it breaks up the awkwardness of the compound predicates.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Bear in mind its not a betas job to tell you how to fix problems, especially not with SPaG. They aren't your editor.
    No, but they did go through all but the last 60 pages or so fixing the grammar issues, which I didn't asked for but they did anyway. Not going to complain about that. So I was just trying to figure out the reasoning for this particular one that I seem to keep making over and over again. I had a beta for a previous novel who did the same thing, but they were good at explaining to me why something was wrong so I could figure it out myself later on. That was some years ago, though.
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  9. #9
    “Nonsense,” Jennie said, and grabbed Millie's hand. dialogue continues

    I would not say they are not grammatical, but it is clunky. I would change it to:
    Jennie said before grabbing Millie's hand.

    I would also take feedback from that Beta with a grain of sand.
    This is a prime example of why I avoid wannabe-editors for Beta readers.
    They spend too much time trying to show you how smart they are when they are really supposed to be giving you broad strokes. Beta reading is not proofreading. Beta reading is about the big picture.


  10. #10
    I think I will separate the sentence like I did in my second example, just to avoid any confusion. Thanks to you all for explaining this to me. Now I'll know better what to do for the rest of the manuscript when I come up to similar sentence constructions.
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