Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.
I'm out of tips this week, but I read a bit of writing instruction recently that struck me as very concrete and helpful so I do have something to share today! In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King (totally recommended), the authors cover two sentence constructions that are common with amateur and hack writers.
Those constructions are (using my own examples):
Tucking her hair behind her ear, she tried to explain.
As she tucked her hair behind her ear, she tried to explain.
Browne and King go on to explain that as and -ing constructions such as these are grammatically correct but weaken writing by taking what could be a direct action ("She tucked her hair behind her ear") and making it a dependent clause and therefore somewhat inconsequential.
They also note that as and -ing constructions usually create two simultaneous actions and can lead to "physical impossibilities." Such as, "Running into the house, she changed the baby's diaper." We mean the character is running into the house to quickly change the baby's diaper, but the sentence suggests she's doing both at the same time. And I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone quite that talented.
If you have Self-Editing for Fiction Writers or plan to buy it, this info is found in chapter 11, "Sophistication," on pages 193-194.
Happy Writing and Editing!