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"as" linked clauses (1 Viewer)

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bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
(Prompted by EG's post)

It's a pet peeve, seeing lots of linking as'es everywhere. I had two in one sentence of my WIP recently, a sort of "X verbed as Y subordinated elsewhere" go-to construct. I see it a lot in beta stuff and editing drafts too.

Sample: "As Alice sat, Bob jumped up as the train chuntered in. The conductor reached for the door as the train slowed as momentum ceded ground to friction."

So how would/do you creatively get around this, without sacrificing clarity, pace, meaning, flow, variety, etc?
 
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thepancreas11

New Writers' Mentor
WF Veterans
I handle this in one of two ways:

First, I chop up my sentences. This helps when there is a lot of action going on all at once. The last thing you need in a tense scene is a sentence that goes on forever (unless the point is to induce some anxiety, which does happen). To use your example:

"The train chuntered in. Alice sat. Bob jumped up. The conductor reached for the door as the train slowed." (I don't personally think you need that last bit. Not sure it adds to the sentence.)

Second, if there are many things happening at once, I just list them. This requires a little more finagling because the order of the list matters. You should always list things in the order that they are actually happening, or if they are simultaneous, in order of weight, otherwise, the sentences will read funny. Again, to use your example:

"Alice sat, Bob jumped up, and the train chuntered in. Momentum ceded ground to friction, the train slowed, and the conductor reached for the door."

As a side note, whenever I find myself writing sentences like this, there is always something that can go, something non-essential to the story. I would look for those things first, then employ one of these two solutions.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
It feels unnatural to say, "As Alice sat," when I don't even know "what" is also happening at first. It leaves me hanging for a moment before I see what's going on. "Bod jumped as Alice sat," sounds fine. "Bob jumped" is more significant (I assume) so it should go first. The "when" shouldn't be introduced in this case in my opinion until we know "what."

If Alice sitting is more important, then "Alice sat as Bob jumped" would be fine.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
(Prompted by EG's post)

It's a pet peeve, seeing lots of linking as'es everywhere. I had two in one sentence of my WIP recently, a sort of "X verbed as Y subordinated elsewhere" go-to construct. I see it a lot in beta stuff and editing drafts too.

Sample: "As Alice sat, Bob jumped up as the train chuntered in. The conductor reached for the door as the train slowed as momentum ceded ground to friction."

So how would/do you creatively get around this, without sacrificing clarity, pace, meaning, flow, variety, etc?

'After Alice sat, Bob jumped up as the train chuntered in. The conductor reached for the door, the train ceding momentum to friction.

Still don't like it though. I'd want to completely re-imagine this section.

I've got a few pet peeves I like to keep a count on: 'As', 'but', 'to'. I don't try to remove them all. I just try to reduce any clusters.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
Personally, I change things up. Add a 'while' or a 'when' or 'and' in its place. Put the order of things in chronological order. What caused what to happen. As the train slowed, Alice sat and Bob jumped. I don't thin I've ever written two 'as' 'as' near one another.

I do have: My vision wobbled while the ground trembled under my body as I lurched towards the voice. -- I changed it after reading this thread, though, into: The trembling ground made my vision wobble as I lurched towards the voice.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I always try to avoid multiples close together.

"While Alice sat, Bob jumped up just as the train chuntered in. The conductor reached for the door and the engine slowed, momentum ceding ground to friction."

I like the "
momentum ceding ground to friction." ...sounds good.


 

K.S. Crooks

Senior Member
I have the same feeling about "as" being used too often. I have to check my own writing for this and other tendencies. Many ways to rework the given sentence and others.

Change to- Alice sat and watched Bob jump when in chuntered the train.
 
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