quote:Her tutor woke her well before dawn. Patience felt the chill of the morning through her thin blanket, and her muscles were stiff from sleeping on a hard mat on the floor (Wyrms, OSC, start)
Strange, right? Though I admit I noticed nothing until examining each determiner: Her tutor, the chill, the morning, her thin blanket, her muscles, the floor. And a hard mat?!
Where did "A hard mat" come from? The or her were best for all of the others and not for that?
I've tried various spells to make the author appear, and they never work. I think there is a strategy of variety, where an author doesn't want to use the same determiner too many times in the same sentence. Maybe that's what was happening here.
I wouldn't use that strategy, but I suspect some authors do.
Or maybe it's BRILLIANT! The refers to a particular hard mat with all of it's features, like color. Meanwhile a refers to hard mats in the abstract, which would put a focus on those abstract properties. Card has, for a moment, stepped away from describing the scene (her hard mat) and helped the reader think about Patience sleeping on a hard mat.
One way to "make the author work" is to ask the author to think about word choices.
Writing can be something you just "spill" onto the page, but if you are willing to think about what you are spilling and what it might actually mean and/or convey to the reader, you can achieve better effect with your words.
Posts: 8826 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!
| IP: Logged |
quote:Originally posted by EmmaSohan: Yes, but would you have used those determiners?
Patience felt the chill of the morning through her thin blanket, and her muscles were stiff from sleeping on a hard mat on the floor.
Yes. These are all correct. Also, while generally "the" means a specific item, and "a" means any member of a class of items -- this is an area where sounding natural and invisible beats hell out of any sort of rules.
So: the chill, because it's immediate and now. The morning, because it's this morning, not some random morning. Her blanket, because it's her only defense from the chill and therefore specific. Her muscles, cuz whose else would they be? A hard mat, because she doesn't want anything to do with the damn mat so the more distant it's made to be, the better.
Also, "a hard mat" implies that such mats are normal things to sleep on, at least for peasants and prisoners (implying that she is not a peasant and not using it of her own free will). "The hard mat" would imply that this is a one of a kind mat and no one else ever suffers such indignities.
Posts: 782 | Registered: Dec 2010
| IP: Logged |