1

For example, in the case of this sentence:

I drove past the empty stables and servant's quarters, and after another quarter mile I entered a very large circular driveway.

Is it implied that both entities, the stables and the servant's quarters are empty? Or do I have empty stables and servant's quarters that may or may not be occupied?

How do I assert that both are empty without sounding redundant? I don't want to do this:

I drove past the empty stables and the empty servant's quarters, and after another quarter mile I entered a very large circular driveway.

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  • 1
    To the person who flagged this as possibly being a request for rephrasing: If people vote to close this on those grounds, I can see why, but I think this is a common enough problem that a light edit may help. I've given it a try. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jun 16 '16 at 16:24
  • Hm. As a rather picky reader, I wonder whether the narrator actually knows they're empty just from driving by. What does she actually see? "The stables stood open and the servant's quarters were dark as I drove by..." – Ken Mohnkern Jun 16 '16 at 17:47
  • @KenMohnkern Your point is well taken, but the narrator owns the property; the buildings have been empty for years. The statement simply informs the reader of information that the narrator already inherently possesses. – Chowzen Jul 27 '16 at 13:54
5

I think the simplest way to achieve this is to say

I drove past the stables and the servants' quarters, both empty

I would personally avoid using a synonym like 'deserted' — functionally, you're just repeating 'empty', and most readers will notice.

One question, though. It's not what you asked, but since you're recasting your sentence to mention that the servants' quarters are empty, I'm guessing it's important: is this building glass-fronted? If your character's passing on the road, how can he/she tell there's no-one inside? Be careful you're not making a POV error.

Finally, one last suggestion, then I promise to go away! If it's particularly important that the buildings are empty, consider breaking the sentence in the middle.

I drove past the stables and servants' quarters, both empty. After another quarter mile, I entered a large, circular driveway.

Information that comes at the end of a sentence will stick better in the reader's brain.

Hope that helps.

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  • There is nothing wrong with repetition for emphasis. In some cases, repeating the same idea in different words helps add further emphasis and enriches the experience. "Deserted" adds the nuance of abandonment, a sense that a once busy place is now stilled. "Empty" by itself might mean never used. "Deserted" builds the sense of approaching a once thriving establishment that is now abandoned. We build up a sense of place in thin layers of detail. – user16226 Jun 16 '16 at 13:11
  • You're right, of course. It wouldn't be my style, but I hope it didn't seem like I was demanding a total embargo. Art is art, after all! – Cakebox Jun 16 '16 at 21:10
  • +1 for 'information that comes at the end of a sentence will stick better in the reader's brain.' Also, I had a suggestion ready, but your's are way better. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Jun 16 '16 at 21:52
4

Simply choose another adjective:

I drove past the empty stables and the deserted servant's quarters, and after another quarter mile I entered a very large circular driveway.

Or break up the sentence so that you can group them together.

Both the stables and the servant's quaters were empty as I drove by. After another quarter mile I entered a very large circular driveway.

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