Monday, January 16, 2012

TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING - PART 3

Minimize the Usage of Participial Phrases
Definition = phrases that begin with a verb ending in -ing

Examples:
1) He jumped over the guardrail, holding a gun.
2) Clutching the blanket, the toddler hid his face in the teddy bear.


Why we should avoid participial phrases

1) It is extremely easy to overuse. Using it more than once per page will often draw the readers' attention to the structure, which will cause them to notice your writing rather than your story. Personally, when I edit, I don't like to see more than one every three to five pages or so.
2) Participial phrases, like the progressive tenses discussed in Part 2, are often used to show that two things happen at the same time. It is better to vary the way you show this and use participial phrases sparingly.
3) You can create a dangling participle (see below) if not careful.


Ways to rephrase participial phrases
From the examples above:
1) While holding the gun, he jumped over the guardrail.
He held onto the gun as he jumped over the guardrail.
2) The toddler clutched the blanket and hid his face in the teddy bear.
The toddler clutched the blanket. He hid his face in the teddy bear.

The dreaded dangling participle definition = a participle "dangles" when it doesn't describe the closest noun.

Example:
Looking at the picture, the scene reminded me of our vacation.
The nearest noun for the participial phrase to describe is "scene", but a scene can't look at the picture.

Correction = Looking at the picture, I remembered our vacation.
Even better, don't use a participial phrase = The scene in the picture reminded me of our vacation.

Adding variety to your sentence structure will add spice to your writing and make it more interesting. Often we don't even realize we're doing it, so it's worth the time to review your writing and see if you have a tendency to overuse participial phrases.


TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING- PART 4
Return to list of Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing

List of Top 10 Series

Suzanne Hartmann - 2012
Author of PERIL: Fast Track Thriller #1

2 comments:

Leslie Payne said...

Today I plan to edit out those
-ing phrases in my current WIP.
Thanks for the encouragement!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is one of those trouble areas I have with my writing, and sometimes I just want to ignore it, but I know I need to tackle it.