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Starting sentences with gerunds

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Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

A critique-er (critiquer does not appear to be a word) tells me that "Many editors discourage using gerunds to start a sentence." Understanding is critical for me, so can anyone confirm this from your experience? (yes, that was intentional)

Any insights into why this style is discouraged? Thanks.

HMx6
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : July 5, 2022 2:31 am
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Plus Moderator
 

It's discouraged by people who shouldn't be critiquing.

The hypothetical reason is that it often leads to a "to be" verb. Smoking is bad for your health. Running is good exercise. Flying is fun. And people who cling to grammar/critiquing checklists think "to be" verbs are automatically bad.

Pedanticism is a poor basis for critiquing.

Ignoring the fact that this is only one way to open with a gerund, they would eliminate voice for the sake of pedantry. Editors tell us voice is what they want, but such checklist critiquing erases voice.

And critiquer is a perfectly fine word. 

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
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Posted : July 5, 2022 3:05 am
David Hankins, DoctorJest, MountainSpud and 1 people reacted
G.L. Bertram
(@g-l-bertram)
Active Member
 

I'm a chronic overuser of gerunds, and I agree with your critiquers---they're (usually) a bad idea.

A gerund at the beginning of a sentence often slows the pace of the story, which is the worst issue. However, it can also cause editorial issues down the line.

"Turning her key in the door, she flew up the stairs and snatched the goblin off her bed." That's technically not possible even if you have 40-foot arms.

During my rewrites, I've started hunting down gerunds the same way I hunt down lazy adverbs. I delete most of them, and my writing is stronger for it.

2022 - Q3 - Submitted
Always open for critique exchange.

 
Posted : July 7, 2022 3:35 pm
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @g-l-bertram

"Turning her key in the door, she flew up the stairs and snatched the goblin off her bed." That's technically not possible even if you have 40-foot arms.

Turning her key in the door then flying up the stairs, she snatched the goblin off her bed.

 

I get what you are saying. Thanks for the insight (you too, Martin). I'll add to my stuff to look for while I edit. Or, written another way:

Pondering g-l-bertram's sage advice, Joe added gerunds to his list of stuff to edit.

HMx6
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : July 7, 2022 5:32 pm
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