You’ve probably heard of dangling participles, but participles can create other problems in fiction too.
Before I dive more deeply into that, let me explain what a participle is.
Present participles are forms of verbs that are formed by adding -ing.
Hoping for a happy ending, she read the last scene.
Using participle phrases isn’t bad per se, but you should use them only for actions that happen at the same time as the action in the main clause. That’s called a simultaneous action.
Correct: Holding the tray steadily, she walked toward Drew.
Since she can hold the tray and walk toward Drew at the same time, these are simultaneous actions and we can use a participle phrase.
For sequential or consecutive actions — one action happening after the other — please don’t use participle phrases.
Incorrect: Unlocking the door, she went straight to bed.
She unlocks the door first and then goes to bed. For actions that you can’t actually perform at the same time, avoid using a participle phrase.
Incorrectly used participles are common with dialogue tags.
Incorrect: “Don’t tempt me,” she said, laughing.
Since she can’t talk and laugh at the same time, you should rewrite the sentence.
Correct: “Don’t tempt me.” She laughed.
In addition to rewriting the sentence without a participle phrase, there are also two easy fixes for when you want to use a participle for sequential actions:
Most often, it might be better to rewrite the sentence, though. Too many participles create a monotonous rhythm. So take a look at the participle phrases in your manuscript and make sure you use them sparingly and correctly.
Whether you’re self-publishing or submitting your manuscript to a traditional publisher, proofreading your work is important. A carefully proofread book makes you look professional and shows readers and publishers that you care about the quality of your work.
Proofreading your own manuscript is not easy, though. After spending months or even years writing your book, you’re very familiar with the text. You see what you think you have written rather than what’s actually on the page.
Here are 20 proofreading tips that can make the process easier:
So, how do you approach proofreading your manuscript? Do you have any other tips you want to share? Please leave a comment.
Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis