Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Playing with words

So I was fiddling around with a small section of my WIP today and enjoying "listening" to the difference between two versions, based on verb tense.

Here's the version I wrote first (and which I like best - and which came out naturally):

And so it began. Owen and Travis and Stumpy and Viola maneuvering the submarine down to the pond. Owen and Stumpy pulling on the ropes. Travis and Viola scrambling to the rear of the submarine to pull out a pipe and carry it back around to the front. Inch by inch... ...foot by foot... ...yard by yard... ...they rolled the Water Wonder 4000 closer and closer to Graham Pond.

Now, I don't know what the heck you call those words, "maneuvering", "pulling", and "scrambling."

Present progressive pluperfect gerundian participlized verbs?

Beuller?

Anybody?

But then, for the heck of it, I decided to try the same thing but change the verb form to past tense.

So that I had:

And so it began. Owen and Travis and Stumpy and Viola maneuvered the submarine down to the pond. Owen and Stumpy pulled on the ropes. Travis and Viola scrambled to the rear of the submarine, etc.

But it doesn't sound as good to me.

It sort of loses the "drama" of the moment or something.

Or maybe it's just me.

But I find it so interesting how word choice affects mood.

4 comments:

Sarah Miller said...

It's not just you. The second one is blah.

Colorado Writer said...

Thanks for all the interesting writing tips!

kmarcus said...

I don't think it's "just you" at all, though certainly no on else writes like you! In the first version, I feel as though I am there as the maneuvering, pulling, etc. is taking place. In the second version I feel like I'm being told something that already happened. The second version will probably make your copy editor happy, but the first one definitely sounds better to my ear.
Kim

Kirby Larson said...

I believe the verb tense in your first example is Present Perfect O'Connorarian, widely used in stories that begin in media res or stories that cause extreme cases of RUCWF. (Reading Under Covers With Flashlights)