Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thinking About My Blog, I Prepare to Come Up With Some Great Advice On Why Gerunds Create Ponderous Writing.

Look at the title of this blog. I used 19 words to say "Gerunds create ponderous writing." I’m not a math teacher, but I think the revision reveals more clarity. “Thinking About My Blog” is nonessential because one would assume I am thinking about my blog as I prepare.

Just what IS a gerund? It’s the present tense “ing” form of a verb, or a noun formed from a verb. Grammatically, it is acceptable to use them. However, too many, and your sentences become clusters of passive words.
Here is an example of a sentence that needs work:

Walking into the room, he decided to watch TV so he flipped on the remote.

Okay, grammatically, this sentence is correct, but is it necessary to state "walking into the room?” Isn’t it a given that in order to be IN the room he had to walk into it? Not every direction needs to be written unless he(watch excessive pronoun use) were recovering from an accident, and he hobbled into the room. Or perhaps he dashed in because there was something hot on the news. Or he was drunk and staggered in.

Unless there a concrete verb to move the story, just leave “walking into the room” off.


Who is HE anyway? “He” could be anybody. As a writer, you need to provide the reader with enough detail he or she can make a mental picture. Don’t begin a story or novel with a series of pronouns unless there is telling detail to distinguish the person. Wordiness is not detail. Wordiness is just a string of uninteresting words in succession that don’t add vivid imagery. Is he old? young? biracial? Redheaded? A student? A bartender? Flat footed? Fat? Tall? You get the idea.

The young man staggered into the room, almost knocking over the TV.
(Yes, I used a gerund at the end of the sentence yet it added telling detail.)

If you insist on using the verb ‘to walk’, add more detail:

Jeremy walked into the room as if he were being chased by a mountain lion.
Now we get a mental movie of how our now named character walks.


Look back over the opening page of your latest manuscript. How many different verbs have you used? Do you use the same verb more than once? What other words can you use to describe the action? Have you used any pronouns? In what ways can you identify your character so that “he” and “she” are clearer?

Happy (revising) and Writing.

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