Hey Writing Students! What’s Wrong With This Sentence?

I’m working on a little story about a dog and a girl named Ani, and I just wrote this sentence. It needs fixing. Something’s weird with it.

Ready? Here it is:

“In a drainage ditch, on the outskirts of a small town that is far, far away across the ocean from Ani, a warm, brown puppy is born.”

Technically, it is a correct sentence.
The words are all spelled right.
The commas are in the right place, pretty much (although there are an awful lot of them).
The images are each clear enough.

So, what the heck is wrong with it?
I think I know why. Here’s a hint.

Imagine yourself as a film director. Imagine how you would film this sentence.

How do opening images of films start? Typically, the camera begins with a big, wide, distance shot. And then it will zoom a little closer, and then a little closer…

But that’s not how I wrote the sentence. I jumped around too much.

First I ask you to picture a close-up of the ditch (“In a drainage ditch…”)

Then I ask you to jump way back, and visualize a town: (“on the outskirts of a town”)

Then I ask you to jump WAY WAY BACK — across an ocean! (“that is far, far away across the ocean from Ani”)

And then I ask you to jump WAY FORWARD! — and zoom in again on a pup in the ditch. (“a warm, brown puppy is born.”)

My visuals are out of logical order. Doh!

Let’s rewrite, starting from far away and zooming closer in on our story.

“Far, far away across the ocean from Ani, on the outskirts of a small town, a warm, brown puppy lies newly born in a drainage ditch.”

How’s that? It’s not perfect, but do you think that’s better?

I like to think of what my writing would look like if it were filmed. Maybe you’ll want to try that too, sometime, with your own writing!

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