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Trouble with Phrasing

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  #1  
Old 01-01-2010, 02:09 PM
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Default Trouble with Phrasing


I have one part of my story that has been giving me constant trouble. Sadly enough, it's only a few lines long. The beginning of the paragraph started as such:

At eight o’clock on the dot his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces, which were fake, after seemingly spending the night in the same room, which they hadn’t, their arms linked, which they hated, appearing every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public, which they weren’t.
My fiancee, after having read over it, commented that it was a bit rough, grammatically and coherently, and redid it as such:

At eight o’clock on the dot his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces, which were fake. After seemingly spending the night in the same room, which they hadn’t, they would enter with their arms linked, which they hated. They would appear every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public, which they weren’t.
I don't want to desperage him, but I am quite attached to the first paragraph, and was wondering if the talented masses found here would have a better opinion on which one is better, major grammatical problems in either, warnings that I should give up on both paragraphs, etc.

Thank you ever so much!

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Old 01-01-2010, 02:44 PM
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Do you have any objections to using parentheses?

At eight o’clock on the dot his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces (which were fake), after seemingly spending the night in the same room (which they hadn’t), their arms linked (which they hated), appearing every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public (which they weren’t).

All of those "whiches" feel like side comments from the narrator and don't really belong in the true flow of the sentence, which is:

At eight o’clock on the dot his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces, after seemingly spending the night in the same room, their arms linked, appearing every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public.

Hmm. But even then the true essence of the sentence would need some rework. When you take out the side comments (the "whiches") the phrase "their arms linked" seems to be in the wrong spot.

At eight o'clock on the dot, his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces, their arms linked, after seemingly (or supposedly) having spent the night in the same room, appearing every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public.

Then you could interject the side comments.

At eight o'clock on the dot, his parents would arrive with smiles on their faces (which were fake), their arms linked (which they hated), after seemingly (or supposedly) having spent the night in the same room (which they didn't), appearing every inch the loving, regal couple they displayed to the public (which they weren't).

Is that any help at all?
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:49 PM
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This was amazingly helpful! I've been writing all morning, and sometimes my brain tends to get a bit fried, and I must have completely forgot about the invention of parentheses. And I see what you are saying about the placement of "arms linked". It sounds more coherent when it's placed earlier. Thank you so much!
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:52 PM
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You're welcome. Someone else might come along and offer another bit of advice, so . . . just take what you can use from us.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:58 PM
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Lose the "on the dot". It's a colloquialism and an ambiguous one. Is it eight in the morning or eight in the evening? It would be better to say something like: "At eight a.m. sharp, his parents arrrived . . . "
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:09 AM
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At eight a.m. sharp his parents would arrive wearing their fake smiles. With arms linked, as if they had spent the night in the same room, they appeared every bit the loving, regal couple their public persona demanded.


which were fake
which they hadn't
which they weren't

All that is redundant. You only need to imply their situation. The reader will get it. The ones that don't are reading above their skill level, which they are.
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