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Another grammar-based query from me that's tricky to Google...

A) The fire inched down the wood toward the petrol-soaked panels that lined the floor of their cabin.

B) The fire inched down the wood toward the petrol-soaked panels lining the floor of their cabin.

In a continued effort to remove unnecessary words, I've been changing a lot of 'that ...ed' to '...ing', as above. (Sorry, I'm sure there's a term for this verb change, but I can never remember the words...) Does B still work, or am I better off keeping 'that'?

Many thanks!

Comments
  • Thanks so much you three - that's really helpful. I'll read those articles and have a tinker around. I'm glad I asked, as I've changed several sentences today in a similar manner!

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    • I tend to write lean & tight. My prefered version would be:

      The fire inched down the wood toward the petrol-soaked floorboards (panels that lined the floor) of their cabin.

      or

      The fire inched down the wood toward the petrol-soaked wood floor (panels that lined the floor) of their cabin.

      But still when we read this sentence it feels as if there is something missing. The fire inched down the wood... what wood? The wood walls? The wood structure? The fire wood piled in a basket? You may already have this info in previous sentence, but if not, this is a good place to add it here.

      Hope this is helpful.

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      • I'd definitely go for a variant of the first of these two options, to avoid the wood-wood in the second. (Not comparing this to anything outside these two option.)

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        • Thanks D.M. Your suggestions are very tight and clear.

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        • It's interesting how so many variations can be had from one short piece. I read Ben's paragraph as being from a thriller - though the novel might not be a thriller at all and my assumption could be wrong. Anyhow, on the thriller theme, I thought the two most important words in this scene were fire and petrol. 

          Ben's writing reminded me of Harry's blog on the Modern American Thriller style.


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          • Brilliant! Thanks. The novel as a whole is not a thriller, but this scene is intended as such. It is amazing how much mileage you can get out of a single sentence, sometimes making it difficult to know when to stop and move on! I've taken all of your suggestions and worked with the information already known to the reader, cutting it down.

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            • Hi, as always I’m late to the party! Just a couple of things that struck me - toward seems American but that may be intentional. I’m in full editor mode at the moment and I think I would just say “The fire inched down the wood towards the petrol-soaked floor of their cabin.”

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              • Thanks Hilary, that's really helpful. I've always preferred 'toward', but I generally opt for the British variation... so I'm going to have to question this! I'm also in full editor mode... after six months rewriting my book (for the fourth time) I have 3 days to go!

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