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    #1

    Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    I am wondering if my sentences sound natural. Would you please correct my mistakes?

    Bob switched the engine off and rested his head on the steering wheel to pull himself together. He got out of the car and headed for the hospital, where his terminally ill father waited for him for their last talk.

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    #2

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    "rested his head on the steering wheel to pull himself together" I think this phrase would benefit from something between wheel and to pull, such as trying or in an effort.

    "waited for him" Perhaps past continuous would be more appropriate?

    "for their last talk" This phrase doesn't sound very natural to me.



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    #3

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    I didn't use "trying" or "in an effort" because editors advise writers to avoid such words if possible, just like the word "start". So instead of writing "it started to rain," you can just write "it rained" except when it is important to mention that it has started to rain.

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    #4

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    I didn't use "trying" or "in an effort" because editors advise writers to avoid such words if possible, just like the word "start". So instead of writing "it started to rain," you can just write "it rained" except when it is important to mention that it has started to rain.
    I'm not sure what you mean. Which editors? Which "such words"?

    it started to rain is pretty different from it rained.

    My suggestion of adding trying was meant to improve the sense of the sentence. It doesn't make good sense to say that resting your head on a steering wheel is a way of pulling yourself together. Pulling yourself together is something that is done psychologically. What you obviously meant was that he rested his head on the steering wheel as a way of facilitating this psychological process.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 02-Apr-2017 at 14:05.

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    #5

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    There are many books written by editors who are specialised in editing fiction. They advise writers to avoid using certain words which are overused, like trying, start, suddenly, just, begin, seem and some others, of course if the meaning of the sentence is understandable without using them.

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    #6

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    A good editor will always consider the effect of a word or sentence. Sometimes words can be redundant, and so omitted. But other times, words will need to be added, to improve the sentence in some way.

    It is very difficult, and in my view unwise, to give general advice as to which words to avoid. It all depends on the text and the context, as well as on other things, such as style.

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    #7

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    jutfrank,
    I agree with you that it is difficult to give general advice, but in this case, in my opinion, if "Bob rested his head on the steering wheel to pull himself together", reader understands that he is trying something without adding the word "trying". The picture of him with his head on the steering wheel in the reader's mind shows that he is trying to calm down.

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    #8

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    Yes, you're quite right that the picture is clear. My suggestion was meant to add just a little more sense. When I read your original, the critical bells in the language centres of my mind were ringing, so I thought I would let you know. I'm not trying to be picky, but constructive. And because you are such a good writer, sometimes the improvements we suggest are sometimes very subtle, and may seem to you a bit picky.

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    #9

    Re: Bob switched the engine off and rested his head

    jutfrank.
    Thank you for helping me. I have the utmost respect for all of you teachers and others on this forum who are trying to help me. You are doing such a great job by teaching us your mother tongue, which is more than generous. When I am writing I am led by my inner feelings, which sometimes must be wrong, while you have English, as one can say, in your veins since your birth, so I have to follow your advice.

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