I am a great fan of murder mysteries, and in one that I read several months ago, I came across this sentence:
The steward was outside the laundry, enjoying a quiet cigarette.
My mind promptly seized on a quiet cigarette, and wouldn’t let it go. Fretful and anxious, the mind wondered if the author had ever known a cigarette to be loud. If so, how loud, and what kind of sound did the cigarette make?
Then a similar phrase came to mind: a quiet moment.
Though it never occurred to me until my mind balked at a quiet cigarette, a quiet moment doesn’t make much sense either.
Being the stickler for clear writing that I am, I’d probably change the offending sentence to something like this:
The steward was outside the laundry, quietly enjoying a cigarette.
That would make more sense. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining or fun.
Tara’s Writing Studio