Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Few Things That Drive Readers Crazy by Ginger Simpson

A Few Things that Drive Reader’s Crazy
I love to find humor in every aspect of life. I truly believe medical reports that laughter reduces stress, lengthens your life, and of course, gives you a much better outlook.
I have tons of material...just based on my own life experiences, but when you factor in all the things learned in the writing and editing process, boy can I share stuff you've never even dreamed of. Like that...I just ended that sentence in a preposition...on be defiant.

One passage in Hurricane Warning reminded me of a writing rule. A chaise lounge flying across the yard in a storm is logical, but try launching a hand or an eye. Flying body parts, "ing" words improperly used, head-hopping (isn't that a flying body part?)

When I read a passage where the hero "threw up his hands", I never pictured only that part of his body flying in the air. Nor did I think he stood over a toilet, hurled, and saw hands floating in the water. Evidently there are some who read more into that little passage, hence the new ruling.
If you read, "her eyes followed him across the room," do you actually picture two eyeballs scooting across the carpet in pursuit of a handsome man? No! But, it's okay for her gaze to follow him. Her eyes need to stay put!
How about those "ing" words that I so love to use because they smooth the flow of the sentences in some places? Editors have driven this point so hard that people are totally trying to avoid using them at all. I refuse. I just re-read what I wrote and make sure it is a sensible statement.
Here's a wrong one: "Searching for him in the darkness, her hands reached..."
If her hands are searching for him...where is the rest of her...and doing what? Better to say, "Searching for him in the darkness, she....
Now it's evident that she is searching...not just her disjointed hands. *lol* Those "ing" words get you into trouble when you forget to use a subject with them. Searching through the fog, the ground grew damp. the ground is searching. Make sense? An easy fix but something as easy to forget.

See, these are the things that drive writers crazy.

Bio – Ginger has been writing as long as she can recall, whether it be Christmas newsletters to family to share the year’s events or creating silly poems or skits for office celebrations. Her first novel experience seemed almost like someone telling me a story, and she couldn’t wait to see how it ended. That’s when she discovered she's a pantser, not a plotter. Shje never plotted a story. Hertales are character driven and unless they talk to her, she can’t write. Luckily, she seems to have a revolving door in herbrain, because she's yet to run out of people with stories to share. Once she  has the story down, then it’s her job as the author to go back and turn it into a novel by adding all the emotions, smells, and conflict. She turns the “telling” into “showing.”

You can find out more about Ginger at
Links –

Here's an Excert from Ginger's just released book Hurricane Warning

“Batten down the hatches, folks.” The radio weatherman’s half-hearted chuckle did little to lighten the mood. His earlier forecast about an approaching storm proved true.

Linda Morrison peered through the picture window of her new Florida home and watched the whitecaps churning in Sleepy Reef’s inlet. Although the word hurricane had yet to be uttered, the sky grew darker by the minute and rain fell in torrents. Raging wind carried the spray from the crashing tide high into the air and whipped the colored flags atop the boathouse into a frantic dance. She chewed her bottom lip.

A few months ago, she’d lived in the Midwest and feared tornadoes. Moving here had simply switched one of Mother Nature’s furies for another. Why hadn’t she considered that?

She backed away from the shimmying window. If things worsened, she’d have to cover the glass panes to keep them from shattering, but she wasn’t sure she could do it alone.

This was supposed to be her new start, not a nightmare. She’d purchased the home from an older couple who wanted to move closer to their children. The real estate agent had laughed when Linda asked what the sheets of plywood in the garage were used for. After Katrina, the woman found it hard to believe anyone wasn’t versed in hurricane history.

Ginger's book is available from Muse It Up Publishing


L. K. Below said...

Great point, Ginger. That's something I know I need to watch for, too. I know what my character is doing... but sometimes a reader may not.

L. K. Below said...

On a separate note, what a fascist captcha blogger has. It just made me write "Stalin" in order to get my comment published! LOL

Roseanne Dowell said...

You make some great points, Ginger. Another thing about ing words. The action has to follow all the way through to the end of the sentence. If it's not possible, don't use it. EX: Getting into the car, she turned on the ignition. Impossible, she has to be in the car to do that. However, Getting into the car, she sighed. does work. I think that was one of the hardest things for me to learn.

Ginger Simpson said...

I actually was with one publisher who didn't allow a single "ing" at the beginning of a sentence. I use them quite frequently, but I use them wisely. :) Thanks for letting me be here today...I totally forgot I was making an appearance because I didn't write it down. Can you say S-E-N-I-L-E?

Roseanne Dowell said...

I'm glad you came. Not senile, just a lot on your mind. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Jannine said...

Hi Ging:
All good points, and many I have struggled with at one time or another. Sometimes, you write so fast that your brain doesn't have time to catch up. But that's what editing is for, right?

Oh, and if anyone knows about humor in writing, it's you. You know how much I love what you write, not only because the writing is good, but also because you always make me smile or laugh.

Karen said...

I just read an article on this very subject. You nailed it and summed it up quicker than the article. Great post.


Cheryl said...

Fabulous article, Ginger. I've had body parts traveling too. It's hard when you know what you mean, but the reader can take it a different way. Good thing for critique groups.


Lin said...

I have a healthy disdain for "ing" words but not because they need to be scrupulously monitered during my Nudge guided work. (My itty-bitty stories.)

When I was a child, I never dropped my "ing's" from the words I spoke. This earned me praise form other kids parents, and scorn from the kids. Mother's held me up as some kind of an example of perfect diction. I don't know why I never dropped my "ing's" but parents that lifted me upon the pedestal of perfect grammer, gave me the wilies and as noted a health aversion to "ing" words.

I still use's hard not to, but I do try very hard to steer clear of the words that caused me so much embarrassment as a child.

Excellent Post ladies...two of Muse Publishing (yep an ing word), Inc. finest.

It's OFFICIAL Muse Publishing is now an INC. How cool is that?

Lin said...

I reread what I just wrote. My dyslexic has decided to not just scramble words, but leave whole letters off in its desire to get the job finished. I have tried very hard to retrain it, but it's as stubborn as Nudge, my inner muse, about accepting guidance from me.

If I make your eyes, bleed, cross, or run for the hills, please know I am truly sorry.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Lin, it's amazing how our eyes adjust to what it's supposed to say. I once read something that said as long as the first and last letter were correct you can scramble the middle letters and a person would still read it correctly.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Honestly, Ginger, I don't think readers (who aren't writers) would ever notice flying body parts. From what I can see, readers don't analyze the prose, they just want to get on with the story. This is why some best sellers turn out to be pretty horribly written - if the story hooks the reader, the exposition appears to be less important.

With regard to "ing" clauses (present participles), the biggest problem I see (and yes it drive me crazy) is ungrammatical use. If the subject of the primary independent clause is not also the implied subject of the participle, the sentence isn't poor style -it's downright wrong. For example:

NOT GRAMMATICAL: Slowly peeling her negligee off her ample curves, her eyes watched Joe's interest become more and more evident.

("Her eyes" are not peeling off her negligee!)

GRAMMATICAL (though not particularly good style): Slowly peeling her negligee off her ample curves, she watched Joe's interest become more and more evident.


Lisabet Sarai said...

One more thing about flying body parts: the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that there's nothing wrong with saying "he threw up his hands" or "her eyes followed him across the room". Both are examples of non-literal use of language. No native speaker of English would ever be confused by these sentences. It's normal to use physical verbs like "throw" in a metaphorical sense.


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ginger,
Great blog, you raised many valid points, in fact they were all valid. I have to plead guilty, I like ing words and I head hop, and I have been known to use the moving body parts too. Generally the eyes. I am sure readers don't notice this at all, only us authors, who have had it rammed down our throats by our editors. I sometimes fear that we are all going to end up writing exactly the same way, i.e. clones of each other and that would be a shame.
If it is a good plot with great characters and the writing flows, and it is not full of spelling errors, why should we care about all the other stuff.It is just nit picking. Well, call me daft, but that is my take on it.



Morgan Mandel said...

Those roving body parts can get you any time!
Great advice, Ginger!
Also, great excerpt!

Morgan Mandel

J Q Rose said...

I shall call Ginger, Wise Word Woman. Excellent points in this post. I have read her other posts that include great tips for writers. Thank you.