Quote Originally Posted by H7TM4N View Post
I'm trying to make clear to which character I'm referring when writing descriptive parts of a sentence. For context my MC, I'll call him John, is with two others Tom and Greg.

Tom, too, stayed focused on Greg, breathing in deeply through his nose, then exhaling steadily, relaxing his burly frame.

I'm describing Greg's breathing here, him calming himself down. Both John and Tom are keeping an eye on him. Is it clear I'm referring to Greg or could it read like it's Tom's breathing I'm describing? Can I fix it through punctuation?

An alternative I've been considering: Tom, too, stayed focused on Greg relaxing his burly frame—breathing in deeply through his nose, then exhaling steadily.

Would that be better?
The first version does grammatically have Tom "breathing in deeply". The actor in the opening clause is Tom, and -ing phrases modify the entire first clause. Therefore, it's modifying Tom's action, and Tom is breathing, then exhaling and relaxing as he focuses.

If you make it "Greg, who was breathing...", then it will say what you want it to say.

The second version is awkward and still somewhat ambiguous.

I might rewrite to something like, "Tom watched [intently?] as Greg breathed in deeply..." or "Tom watched Greg breathe in deeply..."