On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Beginning sentences with gerunds (right now as I first wake up, I think that means "ing" words) is fine by me. To ramble a little since I'm running late -- I AM not a writer who had a solid grammatical foundation, so I will probably not talk much about grammar and punctuation -- particularly tenses and the placement of commas. You'll have to go somewhere else for that, and, anyway the publishing houses usually decide which style to follow and prefer their punctuation a certain way (and my idea of commas and ; don't match theirs)

But I had a question about beginning sentences with gerunds. Apparently some people don't think it should be done. I do it regularly and with intent. What IS important, I believe, is varrying your paragraphs. Do the last five start with subject/verb? Then go back and change one to a gerund, or think how else they might start. Actually, this is one techinque I work on all the time as I write.

The only thing to watch is whether your character ends up doing two things at the same time that can't be done. "Weaving through traffic, he talked on his cell phone). Ok, that can be done but SHOULDN'T. Major pet peeve of mine -- probably since someone drifted into my lane (oncoming!) yesterday. But, as far as I'm concerned. "Running through the woods, she pulled a hankie from her pocket" sounds ok.

That's all for now.

Oh, and watch how many lines your paragraphs have, too, make sure it's not all 4 1/2, 4 1/2, 4 1/2, the rhythm gets static -- boring.

Robin (running for the bedroom and drying her hair...)


Blogger moonhart said...


I use gerunds. I like them. And sentance fragments. Alot. Really.

Actually, even with a minor in English, my "voice" and characters lend themselves to "gerunding" and "fragmenting." :)

All this is far better than lulling a reader to sleep with noun/verb, noun/verb, noun /verb.


2:00 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

agreed. I know the language pretty well (also a minor in English) and I like to push the limits.

As far as gerunds... I'm torn as I'm typing this. I use them because they are difficult to avoid. But I try to keep them paired with dialogue.

My greater fault by far is semi-colons; someday a copy editor is going to hate me.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a related subject you might enjoy reading this book

Eats, shoots & leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss

Acurate and funny,

4:26 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Hi Robin,

You make a great point about using variety. I really have to watch sentence structure. It’s easy to fall into patterns that become boring. Sentence length used to be a real problem for me. I think I used lots of short sentences because it was my fall back when I wasn't sure about the commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes. After I found and devoured Strunk my confidence improved and so did my writing. Gerunds are now my friend.

7:42 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

Strunk is the definitive. It goes with me everywhere.

I have seen Eats, shoots & leaves and it looks good, too.

11:03 PM  
Blogger moonhart said...

I LUBS semi-colons!

But I hear that editors hate them and readers don't understand them.

My daughter last year had to write a paper on what puncuation mark she was. I told her flat out-- you are a semi-colon.

She looked it up and said, "Hey, I AM a semi-colon!"



5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerunding is fun!

John F

3:30 PM  

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