Sequence

Read these two excerpts and tell me which one you like better…

This one, a mishmash of sentences as they occurred to the writer (me):

Early morning light crept across the dirt floor.  When would they come for him? What monstrous hour would be his time? Steve watched a spider build its web between the two metal bars of his cot. He noted the beads of dew on the web without really seeing them, without seeing the spider or its red belly, without caring about a potential bite from its venomous fangs.  Down the hall, keys rattled on a heavy chain, a door clanked and a prisoner whined something unintelligible.  Somewhere, within the compound but farther away, two other men laughed.  It was not the sound of two men sharing a joke.  Steve squatted on the ground, pulling his legs up until even his toes were covered by the darkness.

Or this one, re-written in a MRU: 

Early morning light crept across the dirt floor.  The smell of cabbage, held captive by the heat, permeated the air.  Down the hall, keys rattled on a heavy chain, a door clanked, and a prisoner whined something unintelligible.  Somewhere, within the compound but farther away, two other men laughed.  It was not the sound of two men sharing a joke.

Steve squatted on the ground, pulling his legs up until even his toes were covered by the darkness.   He watched a spider build its web between the two metal bars of his cot. He noted the beads of dew on the web without really seeing them, without seeing the spider or its red belly, without caring about a potential bite from its venomous fangs.

When would the guards come for him? What monstrous hour would be his time?

***

The sentences are the same.  The information is the same, but which one reads better???  Does it have anything to do with arrangement???  Can arrangement make all the difference???  Is the sequence in the second one better???  Let’s take the second one again and examine why it sounded better. 

{ACTION} Early morning light crept across the dirt floor.  The smell of cabbage, held captive by the heat, permeated the air.  Down the hall, keys rattled on a heavy chain, a door clanked, and a prisoner whined something unintelligible.  Somewhere, within the compound but farther away, two other men laughed.  It was not the sound of two men sharing a joke.  {END OF ACTION}

{REACTION} Steve squatted on the ground, pulling his legs up until even his toes were covered by the darkness.   He watched a spider build its web between the two metal bars of his cot. He noted the beads of dew on the web without really seeing them, without seeing the spider or its red belly, without caring about a potential bite from its venomous fangs.   {END OF REACTION}

{INTERNALIZATION} When would the guards come for him? What monstrous hour would be his time? 

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8 thoughts on “Sequence

  1. This is weird, and something I’ve never noticed before (maybe it’s unique to this example?) The first one is easier to read fast and understand without any effort. The second one is technically better, more crafted, but it took more of my concentration to read and understand what was happening. I don’t get that at all. You’d think it was the other way around. So which one is better? Aren’t MRUs supposed to be better?

    Another thing about the second one–I was subconsciously aware of the formula while I was reading it. But non-writers might not be, and I think that’s why it’s supposed to work. To me, however, it has a contrived feel to it. Dare I say the first example was more interesting?

    Do you rewrite all your stuff in MRUs?

    • Interesting response.

      The first draft–or you might call it the outline, in this case, is often out-of-order. You know how it is. But, yeah, I try to write in MRUs. Maybe, I’ve studied too hard. 🙂 Does that mean I can quit now?

  2. OK, if the sentences are really in italics represent the internalization of ideas within the protagonist, put then in the first preson rather than third!

    Except for that one revision, I like the first better. The second is too logical. It would seem the ideas are better presented like a slight muddle. But that’s just my taste…;-)

    • …sets the pace. I’ve got to think about that one for awhile.

      All comments are appreciated. I like it when someone makes me pause and reconsider. I mean, what’s the point of discussing anything if your mind is locked-down?

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