A long time ago, in a galaxy indistinguishable from this one, Davin wrote this post about the word "and." His concern in that post is the bad practice of linking conflicting descriptive words or phrases together when we can't decide exactly what we're saying. It's a good post, well worth reading if you haven't already, but this post is about a different misuse of the word "and."
One less than elegant stylistic habit I have in first drafts (and sometimes shamefully in subsequent drafts) is to write seemingly endless sentences that chain actions together with the word "and." I'm wordy, I'm a fan of the long sentence, and often I'm simply not paying attention. So I'll have an action sequence of some sort that follows the pattern:
I did [action] and then [action] until I [action] and then I [action].
This rarely comes out well, especially if there are prepositional phrases and objects in the sentence, like:
I cut the ropes on the parachutes and then pulled my pistol from its holster while taking hold of Harry's harness and dragging him to safety in the underbrush, dodging the spears flying at us from the trees to the south.
I'm sure that the action is fine, but I think that long sentences like this, when they're essentially just strings of verbs, usually work better if we break them up. Maybe like so:
I cut the ropes on the parachutes and pulled my pistol from its holster. Taking hold of Harry's harness, I dragged him to safety in the underbrush. Spears flew at us from the trees to the south.
Or variations on that theme. There are plenty of ways to divide that passage into separate sentences.
Recently (okay, it was today) I came across the following in my own writing:
“Aye, and so can I,” the bursar answered as I stepped around him and walked out of the building.
I have a bad habit of using the I did [action] as I [another action] construction. Occasional use is fine, but too much of it does weird things to the rhythm of the prose. There's nothing particularly wrong with that sentence of mine, but in the context of the scene it strikes me as clumsy, so I'm getting rid of the "as" and just writing:
“Aye, and so can I,” the bursar answered. I stepped around him and walked out of the building.
That's much more satisfying to me. I like the full stop after "answered."
I think that a lot of times when we look at sentences or passages that strike us as wrong, we immediately start trying to change the word choice ('the bursar answered?' Maybe 'said' instead. Or maybe 'stepped around' is wrong?) when what's really wrong might be as simple as the punctuation. Just a thought.
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