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I'm currently working on editing my fantasy novel, and was wondering if I could get feedback on these sentences:

"I visited the hidden room frequently. I made sure that I wasn’t followed each time, but I was never sure that I someone hadn’t escaped my notice."

I feel like the sentences shows what they're supposed to, but seems clunky and don't drive my point through as much as they could. Any advice on how it could be improved?

    • I would agree that the contradiction and the repeat of the word "sure" is confusing. If not deliberately so, you could try: "I visited the hidden room frequently. I did all I possibly could do prevent anyone from following me there, but always there was that nagging doubt that someone was there, just behind me, escaping my eyes.

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      • All the above are good suggestions. I'd like to add that for me there are also too many I's - four (assuming the last one is a mistype) so you can pare the sentence down a bit. Changing only the necessary it could read:

        "I visited the hidden room frequently, making sure I wasn’t followed each time, but never certain that someone hadn’t escaped my notice."

        You can play around with the wording of course, especially the second half, eg but always feeling I was being watched, to make it a bit more ominous (if that's the atmosphere you're going for), but I think it already sounds less clunky.

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        • Following on from all the other examples, and adding to my quick response last night, I'd say that the whole thing needs to be made more personal, more intimate. It's all very telly at the moment. Show us more. What does "making sure I wasn't followed" entail? Being furtive and inconspicuous? Being so actively "inconspicuous" as to be conspicuous? And what brings on the uncertainty of success? is it that nagging feeling, or is it the suspicion of others who are more inconspicuous than I? (The whole "someone hadn't escaped my notice" is the inverse of the problem to be solved: it's not that the character needs to see everyone, it's that no one should see the character. The current phrasing has a touch of childish I-can't-see-you-so-you-can't-see-me logic.)

          There's a lot of room to rein in the psychic distance.

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          • Thanks for all the insight. It'll definitely make my sentences stronger.

            After improving my sentence:

            "I visited the hidden room frequently, making sure that I wasn’t followed each time, but never sure that I was truly alone. My nerves were always on end, my eyes seeing shadows."

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            • An intereting turn. Is your intent to imply that your character wasn't alone in the hidden room, not due to being followed but because of some other presence? Because that's what it now implies.

              If you instead mean followed, then it doesn't work.

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