Going, Going, Gone

A look at gerunds.

We’ll conclude my trilogy of common words and phrases a new writer needs to eliminate by taking a look…er…with a quick look at gerunds, otherwise known as those pesky “i-n-g verbs.”

In a nutshell, gerunds are considered weak verb choices because they reflect “the act of being in the act”–which is why so many editors frown upon seeing so….er…frown so much when they see so many. To repeat myself a bit, we’re not talking about…er…the problem is not the use of gerunds, but the overuse.

In looking at…er…when I review my own rough drafts, I see i-n-g verbs sneak into my own narrative more than any other “prolific no-no.” In fact, while rereading….er….as I reread my digital copy of Virtual Blue, I see, in some passages, more i-n-g verbs stayed than I care for. The rule of thumb here is the same as the rest, a couple per page is okay. If you have a few per paragraph, things get ugly.

As you can see, rewriting…er…you can rewrite around most gerunds pretty easily during your…er…while you review your second draft. With few exceptions, there’s no reason to keep a gerund if you have other choices. All that said, there’s something to be said for a little variety, and like any other fine seasoning (not the same thing, it’s a noun), sprinkling a few….er…you’re okay if you  sprinkle in a few.

So, to review the basic no-nos (with links to the original articles)

Minimize passive verbs
Minimize adjectives and ly adverbs
Minimize gerunds

Next time, we’ll dig a little deeper into the art of storytelling (shut up) and the finer points of point of view.

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About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan’s latest book, Commanding the Red Lotus, is a novel-length collection of three space opera tales in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry. His novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. R.J. co-hosts the Two Towers Talk Show YouTube program with John F. Allen. He resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.
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One Response to Going, Going, Gone

  1. Pingback: Writing Tips Continued: Person or persons defined | R.J. Sullivan Fiction

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