[Mark Trail, October 17, 2013. Click for a larger view.]
Given the tools available to me, I can’t do much to improve Mark Trail’s “cell phone,” which looks more like the battery from my old Sony Vaio. But I can improve writing. The last panel is the problem:
[Mark Trail, original.]
As Dusty Rhodes asks, what are you getting at, Mark? What’s on that phone of yours? The problem is the misplaced modifier “except us.” Garner’s Modern American Usage explains:
When modifying words are separated from the words they modify, readers have a hard time processing the information. Indeed, there likely to attach the modified language first to a nearby word or phrase.Garner offers a grimly comic example: “Both died in an apartment Dr. Kevorkian was leasing after inhaling carbon monoxide,” a sentence suggesting that Kervorkian inhaled before he leased. Here’s what Mark Trail should have said:
[Mark Trail, revised.]
Between today’s strip and tomorrow’s, Dusty will probably figure things out.
This post marks the second time I’ve improved writing in a Mark Trail strip. Here’s the first. I rely on the free Mac app Seashore when I make such improvements.
All How to improve writing posts (Pinboard)
[This post is no. 46 in a series, “How to improve writing,” dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]