Dangle your modifiers


Caked in dung and warm to the touch, Susie cleaned her horse's hooves with a careful precision. She stared out across the plains and wondered where Lorenzo was now. Long and hard, he had set out on a journey which could only lead to death. Wondering whose death it would be, an eagle wheeled across her vision as she sat, lost in thought. She stood up and patted her horse's flank, tail flicking away a cloud of flies. Four newly-cleaned hooves planted firmly on the ground, Susie hoisted herself up onto the animal's back and prepared to face the journey ahead, unpredictable and full of danger. She dug in her heels and the horse responded. With an enthusiastic whinny, she felt him find a comfortable rhythm and then, tired but determined, the miles flew away under her.
Dead or alive, she would find Lorenzo before he found her, cowering in some bar, most likely, like the worm he was - paint flaking, full of cheap beer and cheaper girls. Desperate and amoral, she would recruit whatever lowlifes she could find and, following her blindly, guide them to him. Smashed off their hinges, she would lead her hired guns through the saloon doors and, playing cards like a man with years left to live, she would see Lorenzo sitting there. Spitting hot metal, he would see her gun barrels flare for a moment and then, falling to the ground in a bullet-riddled heap, she would know that he was finally gone.

14 comments:

  1. Nice one, Joel.

    I will now refer to drunk people as "smashed off their hinges."

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  2. This made my head hurt, in a strange way.

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  3. Ha! I love dangling modifiers. Well done, sir.

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  4. Knowingly dangling OK. Unknowingly dangling just plain jangling.

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  5. Cracked me up, every sentence. :D Nice one, indeed.

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  6. Hey, I was thinking, your best parodies are the ones that have good grammar but suffer from really cliche plot devices. You should write more of those! :D

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  7. "With an enthusiastic whinny" - lovely.

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  8. I really love your post about dangling modifiers. Keep up with the good work.

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  9. I think this is the most painful one yet... it sounds bad and makes the meaning unclear, or clear but wrong.
    But I love the sentence, "Long and hard, he had set out on a journey which could only lead to death."

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  10. Had to google 'modifier' :-(

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  11. The image that's going to stay with me after reading this? A dead Susie finally finding Lorenzo, whose paint is flaking off. Surreal and hilarious.

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  12. Hey Joel

    Very funny but also useful - will follow and come back again..

    I wish my writing came to me in perfectly formed sentences but I'll admit I have to work at it, remove unintended meanings and so on. Am editing a book of stories now, and your warning tips may be useful. Am putting up some of the edit process on my own blog -- feel free to drop by and see how it's going...

    Lane

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  13. Smiling, head reeling, your piece reminded me of so many I've edited. Worried, your words struck me as all too familiar. In the end, though stunned and mystified, these examples amde me laugh.

    There. Thought I'd get in the spirit.

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