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I was writing a story about a bunch of talking puppets. In my story, there was a scene where the puppeteer first met his new puppet.

The puppeteer had a very passionate reaction upon seeing her, and he had to make great effort to contain his excitement, in case it should turn into an unwelcome accident. His hands were even trembling when he took her out from the box, careful not to drop or ‘hurt’ her.

What I mean by the bold part is that the puppeteer doesn't want to overreact, for the puppet requires delicate handling.

As you know, sometimes when people get too stoked up, they tend to lose a certain degree of control of their bodies, which may result in a hug that is too tight, or a kiss that is too slobbery, etc.

And this is roughly what I am trying to communicate in my sentence. The puppeteer doesn't want to break the puppet because he is too excited.

However, I am not sure whether my sentence successfully gets that across. I originally wanted to write this:

... in case it should lead to excessive movements.

But then I thought perhaps this doesn't sound natural? I looked up this collocation on Ngram, but it doesn't seem to be used in the context that I intended. Some of the examples are:

However, instead of a delayed sleep phase, he tended to wake up early, with excessive movements in sleep, and did not show any considerably longer sleep time on weekends or holidays.

"The last thing that young people need is to be priced out of the labor market by excessive movements in minimum wages," he said.

It seems that they focus more on the 'number' of movements or changes made, instead of the degree?

Is there any way to reframe my sentence to make it more understandable?

Anyway, eager to hear what you think.

  • There's nothing wrong with excessive movements. However, I would personally make it singular: … in case it should lead to excessive movement. Using it as a mass noun is also fine. In this case, I actually think it's more natural. – Jason Bassford Sep 29 '19 at 17:25
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I think you're right to try to find an alternative for your "excessive movements" line. I would rewrite your replacement sentence a bit, from:

The puppeteer had a very passionate reaction upon seeing her, and he had to make great effort to contain his excitement, in case it should turn into an unwelcome accident.

To:

The puppeteer had a very passionate reaction at the sight of her, he could barely contain his excitement, but did his best to control himself. Afraid that any wrong move might damage her.


Explanation for the changes I made:
These are quite a few small changes, even though your original phrase was grammatical and pretty easy to understand, so I figured I'd explain myself a bit so you can choose for yourself if and which changes you want to make.

upon seeing her -> at the sight of her
This (in my opinion) is a bit more focused.

and he had to make great effort to contain his excitement -> he could barely contain his excitement
We don't really have a frame of reference how much effort a "great effort" is, the rewrite is intended to be more evocative.

in case it should turn into an unwelcome accident. -> but did his best to control himself. Afraid that any wrong move might damage her.
Your sentence was getting quite long. Don't be afraid to cut it into parts and vary your sentence length. In my suggestion the long sentence is about the puppeteer's reaction to the doll, and the second sentence is about why he is trying to control himself.

I hope this helps!

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