What’s wrong with this sentence: “Shutting off the ignition, she threw her keys into her purse and emerged into the bright sunshine.”
How can you throw your keys into a purse when you are using them to shut off the ignition?
This type of “ing” phrase is called a gerund. I never knew what it was until a critique partner pointed out that I was using them liberally. And I hate to say it, but this was several years into my published works. Even now, I’m not sure this is the correct grammatical term.
I learned my lesson, and as I’m now going through my backlist mystery titles making updates and tightening sentence structure, I am finding more phrasing like the one above.
Beware these illogical phrases in your own work. Here are some examples:
NO: Flinging the door wide, she stepped inside the darkened interior.
YES: She flung the door wide and stepped inside the darkened interior.
NO: Taking a sip of orange juice, she put her glass down and opened the newspaper.
YES: After taking a sip of orange juice, she put her glass down and opened the newspaper.
NO: Racing down the street, she came to a halt when the light turned red.
YES: She raced down the street, coming to a halt when the light turned red.
NO: Shaking the lady’s hand, she stepped back to admire her cobalt dress.
YES: After exchanging a handshake, she stepped back to admire the other woman’s cobalt dress.
It’s okay to use an “ing” phrase in thoughts. For example, you can say, “Wishing she could change the events of the past few hours, she sped down the road.
What is your grammatical Achilles Heel?