November 5, 2006

Third Person Past Perfect For The Win!

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:37 am by Ian

I just observed something. Consider the following

“I woke up to the phone ringing.”

“Bob woke up to the phone ringing.”

“Bob had woken up to the phone ringing.”

It can actually be scientifically proven that the last is 14% better than either of the others.



  1. Dad said,

    Wow, I’m really really really really really really really really really impressed!

    (400% better than I’m really impressed, and 600% better than I’m impressed)

    If only “!” counted as a word, we could all be much more emphatic about everything.

  2. Ian said,

    I’d like to point out, in my own defense, that I was already using that tense because it sounded better before I noticed the additional word.

  3. Kyle said,

    Wow I must be slow. It took me probably a full minute to realize you guys are defining “better” as “more words.” I’ve just read too many writing forum posts that actually do discuss which version of sentences like that constitute “better writing” than others. Seriously. They really argue over which version is better. Or at least, which version an editor will think is better when they review your submission for publication.

  4. AB said,

    Third person past perfect? Please, give me a break. Here’s how you do it:

    Bob woke up to the phone ringing. That is to say, he was asleep, the phone started ringing, and he woke up. To recap, initial situation: Bob asleep, phone silent. Then the phone begins ringing. Current situation: phone still ringing, Bob awake. It’s important to note that there’s not necessarily a causal relationship between the ring and the waking up, although that’s certainly the most likely scenario and not an unreasonable assumption to make in the absence of further information.

    That’s so much better than yours I don’t even have the energy to run the numbers. I could totally write an enormous terrible book in a month.

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