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Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction


D. Wallace Peach with a lesson in grammar- Oh, oh!

Myths of the Mirror

A few weeks ago, I had a blog-conversation with Jacqui Murray of Worddreams about editing out gerunds (those “ing” words). I’ve heard many times that these words should be avoided when writing fiction but never understood why. While some writing no-nos stab me in the eye every time I read them (such as filter words), gerunds never really bothered me.

So, a little research later, here’s the scoop:

Gerunds do three things:

They express ongoing action when combined with auxiliary (helping) verbs:
She was washing her hands.
The snow will be piling up all night.

They act as nouns:
Vacuuming kept the dog hair to a minimum.
Walking helps me stay healthy.

They act as adjectives:
The falling apple bonked her on the head.
A failing grade won’t get me into college.

Opportunity #1

Present, future, and past progressive verb combinations

When combined with little “helping” verbs such as

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JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romance who writes about smart, sassy females and tough, alpha males who learn the true power is love. Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site: http://jacqbiggar.com You can follow her on at http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar, http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

11 comments on “Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction

  1. Thanks again for sharing, Jacquie. Hoping you’re enjoying writing while having a relaxing afternoon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really useful post. A lot more info than the simple ‘avoid gerunds’ sort of approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always balk a little at hard and fast rules of writing. The truth is that gerunds have their place in good writing. So do adjectives. But this close look at how gerunds might frequently be used incorrectly is useful.

    Liked by 1 person

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