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.