First, get on over to Kelly's (Kelly's Compositions) She is holding a great contest. Ends October 10th.
Well, I'm looking for an exterminator. Sure I have stink bugs climbing on my screens, but I also have something that is worse, words ending in "-ing". They are complete pests. Just like the dreaded stink bug-- They come out of no where and place themselves hidden until they decide to fly off the page to scare the heck out of the person reading it.
Oh "-ing" words what am I to do with you?
This is another bad habit of mine and pointed out to me by my editor/ critiquer at the conference. I have also had some other critiquers point this out. My first chapter was, in fact, infested with these buggers. Also, the little fly known as "as" appeared as well. **Take a look at that last sentance--I can't get away from them.
So, why is this bad?
1. Even though the sentence may be gramatically correct, putting an -ing word or "as" at the beginning of a sentence will make the action seem unimportant.
2. It may also make an action seem impossible. Example: Running into the house, I shut off the stove. You were running but were able to shut off the stove at the same time?
Words ending in "ing" and the word "as" weaken your writing. Professionals look for this which indicates "amateur" writing.
How do we fix it?
First, search it out. Read your writing out loud or use the "find" feature in Word. This has shown me plenty of times how I repeat myself.
Second, exterminating it. Getting rid of it can be more difficult. This is what I'm working on.
For example: Picking up the bottle, I read the label. Now, I guess you could read the label as your picking up the bottle but that seems like a lot of action happening at the same time.
Possible fix- After picking up the bottle, I read the label.
Even better-I picked up the bottle and read the label. To the point and the action is clear.
Another example--This is directly from Les Edgerton. I should add-- this is a much better example than mine.
Ripping off several large, dripping hunks of burrito, she pulled a chair up to the kitchen table and took a large bite. As she chewed, she wondered who she was maddest at. James, she decided.
She pulled up a chair to the kitchen table and took a large bite of the burrito she'd found behind the milk and orange juice bottles. Who was she maddest at? Probably James.
Seems simple, but it takes practice. Yes, I said practice. Also note, the -ing word can be kind of hidden if you put in the middle of the sentence. Which will make it a little stronger. Just don't do it on every line. There are instances where these words are necessary. Just don't put them at the beginning of the sentence.
Thanks to Les Edgerton for the tips and examples. (don't forget he wrote a great book called, Hooked. I've used it and its great for writing your first chapters.)
Now I must go grab some Raid and kick some -ing/as butt.
Happy writing! Friday is Fun facts day (plus some catch up stuff) and I will announce a date for the next Writing the Next Line. I apologize for all the crazy sizes. When I cut and paste it does this. Crazy blogger!