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Example:

There's was something wrong in the room, but I couldn't quite tell what it was. I felt as if I had entered a house with the gas stove left on; there was something dense and strange in the atmosphere though invisible to my eyes.

Seconds after later I realized: Anna was no longer in the room.

So instead of writing "seconds after I realized what it was" I just left it as "seconds after I realized (because I already wrote what it was in one of the sentences above).

Is it acceptable to omit what it was in a situation like this?

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    It's perfectly acceptable to say either. In this case, the potential ambiguity resolves nicely, as they often do, since what it was and Anna was no longer in the room are identical in reference, and that fact was what you realized. So, either way, you get to the same place. – John Lawler Aug 4 '13 at 14:42
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    I think your final sentence would have more punch if you replaced your colon with an em dash, like so: Seconds later I realized—Anna was no longer in the room – Mason Hemmel Aug 5 '13 at 14:59
  • Why are you answering the question in the comments, @JohnLawler? Make your comment the answer fer cryin' out loud! – Cyberherbalist Sep 20 '13 at 18:01
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Yes.

Nothing much else I can add!

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"Realize" is a transitive verb, and consequently grammar demands an object. One has to specify what was realized. In this case there is something missing, but it is missing by deliberate intent. It is a figure of speech called ellipsis, which is to say some some part of a sentence is omitted deliberately for some effect. In this case, the effect is a dramatic pause, a brief cliffhanger in the dialog flow, to emphasize the speaker's surprise at Anna's absence.

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"There's was something wrong in the room, but I couldn't quite tell."

That sounds as though the narrator couldn't tell whether something was wrong. I think it works better if it ends in "what," omitting just the "it was."

"There's was something wrong in the room, but I couldn't quite tell what."

Best, in my opinion, is "There's was something wrong in the room. I felt as if I had entered a house ... "

The use of "something" indicates that you don't know what it is.

(There's a typo in the first word, which should be "There.")

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