My Favorites

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 559, Present Participle Words Best Not Employed Q and A

21 October 2015, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 559, Present Participle Words Best Not Employed Q and A

Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but the publisher has delayed all their fiction output due to the economy.  I'll keep you informed.  More information can be found at  Check out my novels--I think you'll really enjoy them.

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with

I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.

Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:

1. Don't confuse your readers.

2. Entertain your readers.

3. Ground your readers in the writing.

4. Don't show (or tell) everything.

5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.

All novels have five discrete parts:

1.  The initial scene (the beginning)

2.  The rising action

3.  The climax

4.  The falling action

5.  The dénouement

The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Escape from FreedomEscape is my 25th novel.
Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I'm on my first editing run-through of Shape.

I'm an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action--in fact, to write any novel. 

Scene development:

1.  Scene input (easy)

2.  Scene output (a little harder)

3.  Scene setting (basic stuff)

4.  Creativity (creative elements of the scene)

5.  Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)

6.  Release (climax of creative elements)

I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:

1.  History extrapolation

2.  Technological extrapolation

3.  Intellectual extrapolation

Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been.  It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect).  Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing. 

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I'll use the next few weeks to answer them.

1.  Conflict/tension between characters

2.  Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)

3.  Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme

4.  Evolving vs static character

5.  Language and style

6.  Verbal, gesture, action

7.  Words employed

8.  Sentence length

9.  Complexity

10.  Type of grammar

11.  Diction

12.  Field of reference or allusion

13.  Tone - how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.

14.  Mannerism suggest by speech

15.  Style

16.  Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter's style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov's includes 'apparent' inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 7. 7.  Words employed

The list is gone.  I’d would be nice to keep it up and add to it as I thought of more classics.  I want to give you more ideas about the employment of words or the right word for the moment, but I’m going to come from a different point of view for a moment.  Let’s look at words not to use.  Here’s the list:





These are words you want to reduce in your writing.  If you check every use of had, was, and were, you will get rid of most incorrect –ing constructions too.  Here is a little more on the –ing construction in English.


Replace weak present participle constructions like:

He was walking.

(with strong past tense verb constructions like)

He walked.

-ing Constructions in English

More on the present participle from Bruce Judisch

I think this is great advice:

What I’ve discerned from writing guides and learned at writing seminars is that participles can be used, but, like anything else, need to be used properly. I’ve read books where they’re overused to the point of distraction, others where they worked just fine. I raised this question to Cec Murphey at a conference last February, and he generally concurred with the following:

The present participle normally implies that the action is being broken. “She was sitting at the table and the phone rang” is fine if the author wants to deliver the fact that the phone call disrupted her sitting at the table. To say “She sat at the table and the phone rang” doesn’t work unless she just sat down and the phone immediately rang. It depends upon the scene your describing as to which you use.

The dangling participle implies concurrent action, not sequential. “He walked to the window, looking out into the street” doesn’t work because he can’t be looking out into the street until he gets to the window. “He walked to the window and looked out into the street” gives the logical sequence of actions. "He walked to the window, rubbing his sleepy eyes" is fine because I'm describing concurrent action. To write "He walked to the window and rubbed his eyes" miscommunicates what I want to say; that is, he's rubbing his sleepy eyes while walking to the window, not after he got there.

To mix the participles, “She was sitting at the table, sipping her coffee, when the phone rang” is perfectly fine, because that’s exactly what happened. “She sat at the table, sipped her coffee, and the phone rang” is stilted, choppy and might not deliver the scene or the mood the author is striving for.

Participles are part of the English language for a reason. When and how often a writer employs them are stylistic choices. A book overloaded with participles is annoying, but so would one be lacking any of them. Like any stylistic device, they can be overused or underused—which is why there are no black-and-white rules on style. As writers, we tend to develop pet peeves on style, though, and one of yours is participles. I have mine, too. I think we all do.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

No comments:

Post a Comment