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More sentence cogitation. (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
First the lead in paragraph:

'As a child, he did not know he cast a shadow. It rested profoundly on his world, diminishing the colours, thinning them. The earth, the heavens, and everything between, left him indifferent, bereft of wonder. But Tommy did not know.'

This is the beginning sentence of the next paragraph. As you can see, I've changed it a little:

His clothes reflected the same insipid outlook

I didn't think 'reflected' or 'insipid' fitted exactly what I was trying to accomplish. 'reflected' is too distant for me and only speaks of 'reflection', a mirror for the previous paragraph. 'Insipid' just wasn't the right word.

His clothes portrayed the same forlorn outlook

'Forlorn' adds more insight into what I mean with the first paragraph. 'Portrayed' is in keeping with Tommy's world view. Not necessarily really him but rather what he's convinced himself he is. 'He did not know he cast a shadow'. I'm happy with this as it stands but that 'clothes' is bothering me. Clothes I find to be a warm word, too 'cosy' for the tone of the first paragraph, and it doesn't really carry much at all. The word I want to use is 'attire'. It's impersonal and colder, something I think reflects the previous paragraph better. But is it too archaic? I not attire, what else? 'wardrobe'? 'apparel'? I need an indifferent word. 'Outfit' kind of works! It's neither here nor there and it's something an actor dons.

His attire portrayed the same forlorn outlook

His outfit portrayed the same forlorn outlook
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
The thesaurus benefitted you with "portrayed" and "forlorn". It betrayed you on "attire". ;-) Clothes was the right word. Clothes might be a "cozy" word in context, but you're not in that context.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
The thesaurus benefitted you with "portrayed" and "forlorn". It betrayed you on "attire". ;-) Clothes was the right word. Clothes might be a "cozy" word in context, but you're not in that context.

Yeah, I've decided 'attire' is too grand, even if I accept it is archaic. I've plumped for 'outfit' for now. Tommy wears drab clothing because he doesn't want to be seen. He casts a shadow and so the shadow has become his stage. Outfits are worn by actors, and to some extent, Tommy is an actor in his own play.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Yeah, I've decided 'attire' is too grand, even if I accept it is archaic. I've plumped for 'outfit' for now. Tommy wears drab clothing because he doesn't want to be seen. He casts a shadow and so the shadow has become his stage. Outfits are worn by actors, and to some extent, Tommy is an actor in his own play.

I don't like "outfit" either. Colloquially, an "outfit" is either a costume for children, or something fancy a woman wears to a social event, and prays no other woman has chosen a duplicate of. ;-)
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
This sentence confuses me-
The earth, the heavens, and everything between, left him indifferent, bereft of wonder.

The earth, heavens and everything are what leaves him indifferent? If so, how did we get there?

I don't know what to say about his clothing, except to suggest "He dressed indifferently" or "He clothed himself with indifference" or "He dressed himself with that indifference."

I feel "outfit" and "attire" break the rhythm of the sentence.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
'Unremarkable dress' might get the point across. Informal, nominally descriptive without breaking the overcast/washed-out voice.

I don't like "outfit" either. Colloquially, an "outfit" is either a costume for children, or something fancy a woman wears to a social event, and prays no other woman has chosen a duplicate of.

Also a group, an operation, a business, a set of tools, a vehicle....

Texans like to get their mileage out of the English language. Sometimes to catastrophic effect.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Yeah, I've decided 'attire' is too grand, even if I accept it is archaic. I've plumped for 'outfit' for now. Tommy wears drab clothing because he doesn't want to be seen. He casts a shadow and so the shadow has become his stage. Outfits are worn by actors, and to some extent, Tommy is an actor in his own play.

As many conversations and questions do, this prompted me into research, the result of which I felt was best served by an article in "Hints and Tips", so my next set of thoughts on this topic is there:

https://www.writingforums.com/threads/191742-Choosing-nouns?p=2328393#post2328393
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
First the lead in paragraph:



This is the beginning sentence of the next paragraph. As you can see, I've changed it a little:



I didn't think 'reflected' or 'insipid' fitted exactly what I was trying to accomplish. 'reflected' is too distant for me and only speaks of 'reflection', a mirror for the previous paragraph. 'Insipid' just wasn't the right word.



'Forlorn' adds more insight into what I mean with the first paragraph. 'Portrayed' is in keeping with Tommy's world view. Not necessarily really him but rather what he's convinced himself he is. 'He did not know he cast a shadow'. I'm happy with this as it stands but that 'clothes' is bothering me. Clothes I find to be a warm word, too 'cosy' for the tone of the first paragraph, and it doesn't really carry much at all. The word I want to use is 'attire'. It's impersonal and colder, something I think reflects the previous paragraph better. But is it too archaic? I not attire, what else? 'wardrobe'? 'apparel'? I need an indifferent word. 'Outfit' kind of works! It's neither here nor there and it's something an actor dons.




An expression doing the rounds right now that I quite like is "spoke to" - meaning related to, identified with. Then, with some light specifics around "clothes" (that you can always augment later) you could have:

His moody trousers spoke to the same jaded outlook.

Or something. Moody trousers though, defnitely ;)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
What about:

His mode of dress portrayed the same forlorn outlook

It's not really the clothes themselves, but his personal style you are trying to depict.

Plus it has nice meter.

 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
Shouldn't these sorts of posts be in the share the work area? It doesn't seem to be general writing questions, but something specific to a particular story.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Shouldn't these sorts of posts be in the share the work area? It doesn't seem to be general writing questions, but something specific to a particular story.

It's the 'process'. It helps more than me to see a sentence being thought through and every word considered.
 
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