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The wisdom of the ages

Caution this sign has sharp edges meme funny-image-2598-600x512

Memes–the internet is rife with them. I love them! Snarky little one-liners, inspiring quotes, cute kitty pictures–memes are the guru at the top of the mountain, waiting to dispense the wisdom of the ages! I especially love book-oriented memes. How do these people know what I am thinking?

book hangover

Wow meme writer–I know! I have the same trouble!

i read because meme

True dat!

And my personal favorite:

BQ5

Ooohh!  Here’s a good one for all you devoted Percy Jackson fans!!

rick riordan tumblr_mczecjFqas1r2ycgu

But life isn’t complete without a Harry Potter meme!

piseed-off-harry-meme-generator-harry-potter-grammar-wizard-gets-really-ticked-off-when-people-don-t-use-commas-correctly-2cdeb5

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The author’s voice

Brunhild_(Postkarte),_G._Bussiere,_1897All authors have a voice, although many can’t sing. I have 8 good notes and I’m not afraid to use them in singing the odd song now and again. Tad Williams can sing, and has the cd to prove it.

But what do I really mean when I speak of an author’s voice?

We become attached to certain authors because when we read their works, we hear their “voice.” We hear them speaking to us.

Each author writes with a certain style, or in other words, the words he or she habitually uses that makes his or her writing unique. “Voice” conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character.

You have all heard me say that having a manuscript properly edited before publishing it is crucial for the indie author’s credibility. You may ask, “what is this process, and how do I retain my voice, and control of my work when someone else is intent on hijacking it?”

First of all, a good editor will never try to hijack your work. Writers intentionally use symbolism and thematic consistency. We sometimes intentionally repeat certain words for emphasis. These things are significant to us, and a good editor will recognize that.

So what does an editor look for in a manuscript?

Indies are looking for an editor who “helps a writer develop a book from idea or outline or initial draft. Makes sure the book will meet the needs of the publisher and its readers. Will work with the author through any number of drafts. Often works with writers of non-fiction. Guides the writer in topics to be covered in or omitted from the book.” quoted from the Editors Blog.

In other words indies want a structural editor.  What will this editor do for them?

The professional freelance editor will read your manuscript, looking for the rough spots and inconsistencies that work their way into every final draft. They will suggest you correct certain grammatical errors and habits that interfere with the flow of your work, and give you an idea of how those corrections could be made. They will also point out things that are unnecessary background–info-dumps that have slipped through, and suggest you remove them.

Also a structural editor may suggest that a section be moved to a different, more appropriate place in the manuscript. This editor will devote a month or more of their time to your manuscript. This is a hefty commitment on their part, and is one that is not lightly made.

Raymond chandler quote split infinitivesA good editor will not try to take over your manuscript and erase your voice.

You, as the author, have the final say on your manuscript–it is after all your intellectual property. If you don’t want to change something you feel is intrinsic to what you are trying to express, you don’t have to.

Sometimes editors don’t see the forest for the trees–and a good conversation with the author will straighten those areas out. If your editor does not respond to your emails, or indicate in some way that they have heard your concerns, you should not work with them.  

The best part of being an indie is having the control of your work. A good relationship with your editor is crucial to turning out a good product.

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The other side of the coin

Water_for_elephantsWriting is about so much more than merely laying words down on a page.   Most people can do that, and can even whack out a creditable paragraph or two. But sustaining the momentum and carrying that vision through an entire novel is quite another thing.

I’ve read several disparaging blogposts where the authors have expressed their scorn and disdain of Nation Novel Writing Month, and that is fine, if it makes them feel noble and slightly more pure than the rest of us mundane hacks. But they are overlooking one important notion, and that is that to write a novel one must start a novel. If it takes a special month of writing and a group frenzy to get some people fired up about an idea they’ve had rolling around in their heads, who am I to complain?  I am a reader as much as I am an author, and I say the more the merrier!

Take a look at some of the most well-known NaNo Novels of all time:

the night circus by erin morgensternWater for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. On the best-seller lists for over a year, turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, started as a NaNo novel.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. What eventually became The Night Circus began life in 2004, seven years before it was finally published, started as a NaNo novel.

Wool, by Hugh Howey. Howey’s dystopian sci-fi novel is one of those credited with putting self-publishing on the map, started as a NaNo novel.

So don’t give me any of your “poo-poo on the contest” crap. Whatever gets a writer fired up and writing is fine by me!

I think the notion that anyone with an idea can sit down and write a book in 30 days bothers some authors, as they feel rather threatened by the number of books being published post NaNoWriMo.  Fear and Loathing, we call that in the industry. It’s irrational, but then no one ever accused authors of being rational!

WoolMost people who begin a novel in November do not reach their goal of 50,000 words. They do not have the discipline to sit down every day and dedicate a portion of their time to this project. And some people just are not good writers. But so what? The cream always rises to the top, my grandma used to say.

Because of NaNoWriMo, thousands of people are now embarking on learning a craft, committing their time and resources to educating themselves about how to write a novel that others will want to read. Several years  down the road, who knows what wonderful works of fiction will have emerged from this year’s madness?

I only know that I am always looking for a good book, and so I will be first in line, hoping to be blown away by a fresh, new work of art.

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Bloated exposition and the power of the “No!”

 

Book- onstruction-signTwo-year-olds are awesome little balls of angst and joy. It’s either all happiness or all misery for them. I just spent the last two days babysitting my youngest grandson, who is two, while my daughter, a well-known musician, was in the recording studio. The dialogue between me and my grandson went something like this:

Me: “Would you like to eat dinner?”

2 yr old: “No dinner!”

Me: “Do you have to potty?”

2 yr old: “No Potty!”

Me: “Would you like ice-cream?”

2 yr old: “No ice-cream!”

It doesn’t matter what you ask the child–he is currently hardwired to say “NO!” to everything, no matter how badly he really wants it.  Everything is high drama and terrible tragedy for him–and his gut reaction to every question is driven by his newly acquired “power of the NO,”  a super-power that regularly goes to his head.

Unlike the two-year-old with his simple cut-and-dried answer for everything, we authors have a large amount of backstory that we are just sure the reader must know every minuscule detail of, and in order to avoid info dumps, we write conversations to do just that, so that the reader will not lack for information.

But this is where we authors need to exercise the power of the NO. It is also one of the hardest things we do–trying to decide what is crucial to the advancement of the plot and what could be done without. I am currently looking quite closely at one of my manuscripts, and I may cut an entire chapter that is only background. It’s awesome background, and I love this background–but when looked at with an independent eye, it doesn’t do anything but stall the forward momentum of my book.

Don’t give your characters long paragraphs with lines and lines and lines of uninterrupted dialogue. Those can become info dumps laced with useless fluff and are sometimes seen as a wall of words by the reader. This is referred to, in the industry, as bloated exposition.

When the dialogue is trying to tell the reader too much, characters end up saying a lot of unnatural and awkward things.

 “Remember the first day at the academy? We showed up wearing identical uniforms. I was so humiliated. I hated you for that. I didn’t speak to you at all until Commander Janson forced us to be partners in the biology lab, but I managed to get us through that with all A’s. But look at you now, you lucky dog. You are fortunate enough to be my second in command.”

“I know, sir. I despised you too, especially when you made me do all the dirty work, cutting up that alien amphibian. And you took all the credit for it. But now here we are, the best of friends and in command of the finest ship in the fleet, the USS George Lucas. I really, really love being your flunky. It is just the awesomest gig ever.”

Probably not gonna happen. When two characters go back and forth explaining precisely what they are feeling or thinking, it doesn’t seem remotely real. The only time exposition works in a novel is when both the reader and the character being spoken to do not know the information being artfully dumped.

dump no infoWhen reading, even dedicated readers will skip over large, unbroken blocks of words. Elmore Leonard said, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” I feel this goes double for dialogue.

Cut to the chase. In real life, you might want to talk at length about the small details, but most of the important information is dealt with right away, and the rest is just socializing. When I think of the novels I enjoy the most, the important information in their conversations is dealt with up front, and the minor details emerge later as they become important.

Consider a phone conversation at work or when you’re in a hurry, and a friend just had a car accident. Your friend has a story to tell, and you have questions. “Are you hurt? Can you drive the car? Do you need anything?” While the boss is glaring at the back of your head, you won’t ask if they had insurance or if your friend will sue (unless you work for a legal firm and you’re fishing for business.)

There’s another important reason to avoid fluff in your dialogue besides the fact it makes a book more enjoyable:

In the real world, Indies and self-publishers pay the costs to publish their works up front. In the ebook format, costs are minimal and it doesn’t matter, but a paper book by a new author that has to sell for more than $12.99 may not sell well. Remember, with a longer book, your costs are increased because until you’re established, you must purchase your own stock to sell on consignment in local book stores. You’ll also need to buy books for your table at trade shows, conventions, and at most book-signings. You’ll want to keep your cost as low as possible and still turn out a good book.

Shakespeare_ICountMyselfFor an indie who writes fantasy, which tends to be longer books and is my genre, it’s most cost-effective for you to keep your work to between 90,000 and 120,000 words if you intend to print through CreateSpace, which prints my paper books. So, wise authors will avoid empty filler in their conversations at all costs.

Having said to keep it short, I know there are times when a character will have a long story to tell, and if it’s done right, it works. Usually, these are stories within stories, and they’re a bit tricky to do right. Deploy the facts, and go light on the fluff.

Remember, what worked in a Shakespeare monologue does not work in a dialogue between two people. Fictional dialogue is about give and take, meant to sound realistic but sharpened by the fact that each character needs something, and by the fact that their needs do not mesh. You won’t get two-page speeches if you remember to visualize your conversation.

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Conveying the Mood

Something I’ve lately realized is that every author, even my favorite, has what I think of as ‘fall-back’ tricks they use when describing certain scenes, little quirks and twists of words that are as personal and unique as a signature. The great authors can get away with this, because their stories are just so darned compelling that we don’t notice or don’t care.

I’ve had to face it–when I, as an author, make a habit of resorting to writing my characters with excessive shrugging or sighing, it’s clear I’ve run out of ideas. I recently had a wonderful discussion with several other authors who have noticed this phenomenon in their own work. After that discussion, I found myself wondering how to maintain speed in my writing when I am in the zone, but still have a variety of words and ideas available to me for describing mood and emotion.

So–since tattoos are expensive, and my palm isn’t really large enough to contain a really good table of visual cues, I resorted to my handy-dandy Excel program, and created one there.

What I discovered while compiling this, is that my little brain is quite limited. I had to struggle to picture what these moods and emotions looked like.  Once I had the facial expression in my mind, it was easier to imagine how a character might appear to an observer.

What these cues do is help me come up with a fresh description when I want to show something that may happen frequently within a group of characters. I don’t necessarily use these cues verbatim as they are written here, but they do give my mind a jumping off point and I can extrapolate from there.

Please feel free to: right click> save as> png or jpeg and print it out for your own use.

Conveying Mood and Emotion in Writing

 

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It may be rattlesnake, but it tastes like chicken

MSClipArt MP900390083.JPG RF PDWriting the first draft of your novel is a lot of fun, but there are times when getting your phrasing right is confusing. Wrangling words is not for the faint of heart! Many frequently used words are what is called “homonyms” — soundalike words.

Yeah–you know that casserole contains rattlesnake surprise, but it tastes like chicken, so the kids haven’t a clue.

You as the author, do not always see the rattlesnakes among the chickens in your work.

You MUST NOT expect an editor to straighten out a mess that you can take of with a little attention on your part, so it is important to do your  research, and learn your craft. Submitting a mess to an editor will result in rejection, as it is an expensive waste of time to try to teach a would-be author how to write a book.

At times, only a homonym, a word that sounds very much like another, can be used in a sentence. That similarity makes it hard to know which word is the correct word in a given circumstance, and when you are spewing the first draft of a manuscript, autocorrect may “help you” by inserting the wrong instance of those words. If their meaning is similar but not exactly the same, negotiating the chicken-yard of your manuscript in the second draft becomes quite tricky.

For instance, take this sentence from my current work in progress, where Friedr is explaining the events that led to Christoph’s sacrifice, speaking to Dane: “With Zan’s assistance, Edwin modified the parasite that will ensure no Bear Dogs can ever survive in Mal Evol ever again…”

Now I wasn’t sure that ensure was the correct word to express what I wanted to convey, because there are three words that could work and they sound alike, and have similar but different meanings.  So I did my research:

Assure: promise, as in I assure you the house is clean.

Ensure: confirm, as in Ensure that you have set the burglar alarm before going on a long trip.

Insure: protect with an insurance policy, as in Insure your home for your peace of mind.

Hmmm.  2 of these words will convey an intent that would work, but I think I will stay with my original idea– Ensure as in Confirm.

 

Some other oft confused soundalikes are ( these are borrowed directly from the Purdue Online Writing Lab)

  • advise = verb that means to recommend, suggest, or counsel:

advise you to be cautious.

  • advice = noun that means an opinion or recommendation about what could or should be done:

I’d like to ask for your advice on this matter.

  • advise = verb that means to recommend, suggest, or counsel:

advise you to be cautious.

  • advice = noun that means an opinion or recommendation about what could or should be done:

I’d like to ask for your advice on this matter.

Conscious, Conscience

  • conscious= adjective meaning awake, perceiving:

Despite a head injury, the patient remained conscious.

  • conscience = noun meaning the sense of obligation to be good:

Chris wouldn’t cheat because his conscience wouldn’t let him.

Idea, Ideal

  • idea = noun meaning a thought, belief, or conception held in the mind, or a general notion or conception formed by generalization:

Jennifer had a brilliant idea—she’d go to the Writing Lab for help with her papers!

  • ideal = noun meaning something or someone who embodies perfection, or an ultimate object or endeavor:

Mickey was the ideal for tutors everywhere.

  • ideal = adjective meaning embodying an ultimate standard of excellence or perfection, or the best:

Jennifer was an ideal student.

Its, It’s

  • its = possessive adjective (possessive form of the
    pronoun it):

The crab had an unusual growth on its shell.

  • it’s = contraction for it is or it has (in a verb phrase):

It’s still raining; it’s been raining for three days.

(Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

Lead, Led

  • lead = noun referring to a dense metallic element:

The X-ray technician wore a vest lined with lead.

  • led = past-tense and past-participle form of the verb to lead, meaning to guide or direct:

The evidence led the jury to reach a unanimous decision.

Than, Then

Than used in comparison statements: He is richer than I.
used in statements of preference: I would rather dance than eat.
used to suggest quantities beyond a specified amount: Read more than the first paragraph.
Then a time other than now: He was younger then. She will start her new job then.
next in time, space, or order: First we must study; then we can play.
suggesting a logical conclusion: If you’ve studied hard, then the exam should be no problem.

they're their there cupTheir, There, They’re

  • Their = possessive pronoun:

They got their books.

My house is over there.

(This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.)

They’re making dinner.

(Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

To, Too, Two

  • To = preposition, or first part of the infinitive form of a verb:

They went to the lake to swim.

  • Too = very, also:

I was too tired to continue. I was hungry, too.

  • Two = the number 2:

Two students scored below passing on the exam.

Twotwelve, and between are all words related to the number 2, and all contain the letters tw.

Too can mean also or can be an intensifier, and you might say that it contains an extra o(“one too many”)

We’re, Where, Were

  • We’re = contraction for we are:

We’re glad to help.

(Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

Where are you going?

(This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.)

  • Were = a past tense form of the verb be:

They were walking side by side.

Your, You’re

  • Your = possessive pronoun:

Your shoes are untied.

You’re walking around with your shoes untied.

(REMEMBER: Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

Special thanks to the Purdue Online Writing Lab for posting these amazing hints, and SO much more information crucial to the craft of writing. If you go out to their website you will find it chock full of really good lessons for you to use to improve your skill at the craft of writing.

to, too, twoIt seems like a no brainer when you are reading it, but when you’re in the throes of a writing binge these little no-no’s will pop up and confuse you the second draft. The problem is, you will see it as you intend it to be, not as it is written, so these are words you must pay attention to. Sometimes, doing a search will locate these little inconveniences.

Some are obviously wrong and stick out like sore thumbs, like improperly used they’re, their, and there but some like accept and except are so frequently confused and misused in our modern dialect that it is best to simply look it up to make sure you are using the right word for that context. If you search for these now, you will save your editor having to do this for you, and your edit will be much more productive.

Searching for these bloopers is what I like to think of as sorting the rattlesnakes out of the chicken yard, and is part of making your manuscript submission-ready.

 

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Dear Sir or Madam

GerundsThere are times when the vagaries of modern English (previous error in capitalization edited by Stephen Swartz) get in the way of reading what could be a great novel.  Some weeks I see six or seven books, both indie and traditionally published, before I find one book worth reviewing for my book review blog, Best in Fantasy.

As authors, we are all overcome with the urge to shout to the world, to immediately show the world our precious child, to rush to publish it now.  It is the rare author who can write prose that is fit to read in his first draft–if that author actually exists, I’ve never read his work.

For the indie, this is fatal.

This is why I highly recommend hiring a reputable editorial service to go over your manuscript, even if you plan to submit it to a publisher. After all, why not submit the best work you can, rather than risk being stuck in the slush pile?

An editor will have several reference manuals at his/her hand, and will help you realize your vision, whittling away at the block of granite you gave birth to and love so much, carving away the unnecessary and extraneous words and cliches  until the book emerges in all its glory.

honorificsWhen I am editing, I refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, the Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, and of course, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. As I have been through the process of being edited and hate that horrible feeling of being called to task on silly things, I often refer to these books when I am second guessing myself in my own work.

What are the silly things, you ask?  They are things we learned in grammar school but forgot as we grew older and didn’t use them.  Small things like when to capitalize an honorific title, and when not to–something that crops ups regularly in my work as I often write in a medieval setting.

I’ve found it helpful to use the control -f (find) function in WORD to locate every possible mangling I might have made of a particular word. Then I look at and replace each instance on an individual basis. (NEVER click replace all!)

KinshipConsistency is important, so  we must know when to capitalize titles and honorifics–words like king, and majesty, or even lord. Also, when to capitalize familial titles such as father, mother, son and aunt.  If you are determined to do it wrong, at least have your roommate ensure that you have done it that way throughout the entire manuscript, rather than sometimes one way and sometimes another, which is the normal, natural way to write a first and even second draft.

Editors not only correct grammar, they check for consistency. They are worth their weight in gold. They’re more important than the fine artwork for the cover, more critical than the catchy blurb. We live in the wild west of the publishing business, and we find ourselves doing whatever we can on the cheap to get our book published. DON’T skimp in this area, if you value your reputation. Once you have published, it’s a pain in the backside to unpublish, have it edited, reformat it, and go through the launch all over again. Remember, we see what we meant to write, not what is actually there.

But you don’t have to listen to me–experience is the great humiliator.

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Lamed in the land of Language

IBM_SelectricMy first draft sits sullenly on my desk, glaring at me with repetitiousness and flatness of prose.  No matter how I grasp for words, a sword remains a sword, remains a sword…since to refer to it as a blade or weapon would require stretching the vocabulary…

…ellipses rise and fall with frequency across my page…boring, jarring frequency…

My characters are Angry!  Not mad, furious, enraged, excited, wrathful, indignant, exasperated, aroused, or inflamed–no–they are merely

‘angry.’

I frequently tell them how awesome they are, because my mind is inelastic, and awesome is all I know. Truthfully, they are amazing, incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, AND extraordinary. But my lamed vocabulary shall forever deem them ‘awesome.’

Roget's Thesaurus 1st editionMy thesaurus has been used and abused, and still my lazy (indolent, slothful, idle, inactive, sluggish) mind gropes for words.

Inspiration has played me false. Fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, and unfounded? No! ’tis erroneous, deceptive, groundless and fallacious, this twisty beast, Inspiration.

I go quietly into the depths of the Room of Shame, that hall of horror that is my office, where I shall once again attempt to wrangle words in the desert of desperation.

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Vegan Fried Chicken

photo courtesy 'Taste of Home'

photo courtesy ‘Taste of Home’

Tomorrow I am hosting a gathering of local authors at my home, for an all day immersion in the craft.  I am providing a lunch, and it will be a lot of fun. The menu will be:

Fried Chicken (a vegan will have fried it, so there you go–Vegan Fried Chicken)

Potato Salad – vegan

Green Salad – vegan

Avocado Salad – vegan

As I have said before, I was not always a vegan, and am frequently a reluctant one.  But for my health’s sake, I avoid meat, and dairy. I am careful what I consume, because I have an autoimmune response to these foods–inflammation of my joints that cripples me. While I love fried chicken as much as anyone, I really prefer to be mobile and off the cane.

The negative effects of going off my vegan diet are immediate–maximum suffering occurring within 24 hrs. Then it takes two or three days to clear out of my system.

tacos and burritosDue to the  way our food is grown and processed by the large food manufacturers, many people nowadays are suffering food related allergies. All the food I prepare for groups is gluten free, nut free, organic and locally grown (except the avocados-they don’t grow in Tenino.) Even the chicken is organic and raised humanely. I have become re-attuned to the notion of being connected to your food as more than a consumer. If you know where it came from, how it was grown, you have more appreciation for it, and each meal becomes a celebration.

Food is love, but only if love went into the preparation of it.

I am a vegan, but those around me are not, and I do love them, so I frequently prepare ‘blended meals,’ keeping the side dishes vegan, and creating a separate high-quality, organically raised meat dish for those who expect it. If I provide dairy, it is clearly labeled so that it isn’t accidentally mixed with the non-dairy foods.

SO–the vegan will fry the chicken, and carnivorous authors will consume it. The vegan really won’t miss it at all, as I have found new sources of protein that really satisfy me in the crucial areas of taste and texture, and the quality and pronounce-ability of the ingredients is excellent. That is the basis of my ongoing cookbook project that I hope to launch in late 2015.

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The road to perdition

I just attempted to read a book.  I say ‘attempted.’ It may have been based on an intriguing idea, and there might have been wonderful characters, but I wouldn’t know, because after three pages of reading, I had to set that travesty aside. Every sentence began with a GERUND.

Gerunds, © Connie J. Jasperson 2014

Now I know how this happens.  New authors who spend a lot of time in writing forums and writing groups, and who have had their work trashed by the group guru as being passive might see using gerunds as a way to generate action in their narrative.

dachshund.04But Mama, what’s a gerund?  Is it like a dachshund?

No dear, gerunds are not like dachshunds, although both are insidious minions of evil that manage to work their way into … where was I? Oh yes, gerunds.

ger·und

ˈjerənd

noun
  1. a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun, in English ending in -ing, e.g., asking in do you mind my asking you

SO a gerund is a verb is a noun that acts like a verb that acts like a noun.

Now that I have cleared that up, what is it really?  A gerund is not like a normal noun because a gerund can take a direct object (just like a verb can).

Basically, they are ING words—DOING words that when you combine them with possessive words such as his, my, him and their, can become nouns.

Writing – He is writing.  (it’s a verb)  I like his writing. (it’s a noun)

Running – The dogs were running. (verb)   The child’s running through the house aggravated me. (noun)

BUT wait—gerunds can also be participles?–oh, those cross-dressing fiends!

Participle phrases always function as adjectives, adding description to the sentence without resorting to that most heinous of writing-group crimes, the dreaded ‘ly’ words ( Satan, get thee away from me):

The child running across the lawn hopes you have brought him a present.

Running across the lawn modifies the noun child.

I could get really technical here and talk infinitives and prepositions–but we just want to get to the writing do-and-don’t part.  Do use them when they are necessary, and  don’t use too many. Remember it’s all about balance. Your narrative is like a ship and words are ballast–get too much on one side and suddenly your ship is at the bottom of Lake Erie.

Gerund phrases and present participle phrases are easy to confuse because they both begin with an ing word. The difference is that a gerund phrase will always function as a noun while a present participle phrase describes another word in the sentence.

SO how are ING words properly used when writing narrative? In my opinion, they should only rarely be used to begin phrases. Confusion abounds when we are too free with them, as they ruin the flow of the narrative for the casual reader.

When you are writing the first draft, none of this matters, because all that matters at that point is getting the story out of your head and onto the paper. HOWEVER, when you are working on the second draft of your manuscript, keep this in mind:

  • Adding excessive words to your narrative will result in a passive narrative. Using gerunds to begin your phrases will not turn a passive voice into an active voice. Instead, you must trim out the unnecessary words, because using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps them from becoming too complicated or wordy.

Relying on gerunds to create active phrases and avoid accusations of the dreaded passive writing is taking the road to perdition my friends, because just like any other grammatical crutch,  gerunds are the devil when used improperly.

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 And on a different note–Last Monday I posted on My Writing Process — and today, Stephen Swartz and Shaun Allan have posted their blogs detailing their own writing processes:

Stephen Swartz can be found at Deconstruction of the Sekuatean Empire

Shaun Allan can be found at Flip and Catch

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