1. zaffy

    zaffy New Member

    Jan 9, 2010
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    participles 'ing'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by zaffy, Jan 11, 2010.

    I have just read 'ing' words weaken a story and that it is best to use 'ed'.

    Can anyone confirm this please. If so, I have a lot of changes to make.

    Sorry, I think I left a comma out in my question.
    I think I meant...
    I have just read 'ing' words weaken a story, and it is best to use 'ed.

    I am on such a steep learning curve, I can't see the words for the trees.
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Participles are used for tenses that indicate continuing actions. Because a continuing action doesn't have a clear starting or ending time, it lacks the impact of tenses that nail an action to some moment.

    Obviously, continuing actions have their proper place, but more assertive verbs make for crisper writing.

    One reason participles get overused is that less experienced writers tend to try to stuff too many actions in a single sentence.

    Too many things going on at once. Furthermore, the way they are combined (especially with the word "while") synchronizes the continuing actions, i.e. there is an implication that they begin and end together. Usually that synchronization is inappropriate and a bit silly.

    By the way, if you forget to say somnething in your post, or spot a mistake, you can edit it instead of immediately following it with another post.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    if you have to put all that into a single sentence, a better-written/reading and more impactful way to do it would be:

    there, you have a sequence of events and a continuing one, during his run, but they all make sense, being in better order...
  4. DragonGrim

    DragonGrim New Member

    Oct 3, 2008
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    Here’re some “ings.” 5 actually!:D Don’t sound too bad:

    Pulling his gun free, firing, dodging pursuers’ bullets, the toxin coursing through his veins, he sprinted for the plane now skewing in his vision.
  5. bleakside

    bleakside New Member

    Jan 12, 2010
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    There's not necessarily too much going on. Just needs a bit of tweaking. You need to indicate that we are not actually speaking in our present tense, but the present tense of the act involving the gun. He pulled (which has become past tense and is legitimate) and started firing (which is the present tense matter and now the subject of the sentence).

    So just a bit of tweaking gives you:

    Whilst running for the plane and dodging the bullets from his pursuers, the fugitive pulled out his own gun and began firing over his shoulder.

    Running and dodging are continuously happening, so these verbs are present tense in the event of this scene. The use of 'whilst' helps reinforce that. Also, remove the comma before and ;)
  6. architectus

    architectus Banned

    Aug 19, 2008
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    If you study the novels of great writers, you will notice they rarely start a sentence with a participle phrase. But they often follow a main clause with a participle phrase or two.

    The fugitive sprinted for the plane, ripping the gun from his holster, firing over his shoulder, all while dodging bullets from his pursuers.

    Nonetheless, with information like this, I would naturally write two sentences, but I could still use a participle phrase.

    The fugitive sprinted for the plane, struggled with his holster, but managed to pull his pistol. Deep down, he always knew he’d have to use it. He just didn’t think it would be against FBI agents. The fact they were agents should have made him pause or think, but instincts took over, and he fired over his shoulder, feet still pounding concrete. Bullets whizzed by, so he was dodging bullets. No, this wasn’t a James Bond flick, so he was getting lucky, or they were bad shots. What strange thoughts to have in such a situation, but who said his brain was normal?

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