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Starting Sentences with -ing Verbs

Ross at Play
Updated:

Prowritingaid.com flags all sentences beginning with an -ing verb form. Their explanation is they may make it impossible to avoid awkward sentence constructions.

I just found one in a story I'm editing.

It was, 'Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.'

In this case, the author has ended up using a needless 'as', BECAUSE they started with an -ing verb.

My current thinking is to suggest, 'I scan by bus pass getting on, and flop into the nearest seat.'

But what about this: 'Leering at the hot chick, I follow her onto the bus and sit beside her.' (And no, this is not from personal experience. I always sit just behind!)

Doesn't that imply the leering never stopped? Is there another way to achieve that without an -ing verb?

Is there a place for -ing verbs when you want to show continuity of one action during a sequence of other actions?

Do others think: 'Never use them! There's always a better alternative'?

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I sometimes start a sentence with an 'ing word. Otherwise you end up starting sentences with too many "he" or "I" words.

Yes, there is a difference between "running" and "ran."

I was running to the store (at that point you're still running when something happens).

I ran to the store (you're already at the store when something happens).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Otherwise you end up starting sentences with too many "he" or "I" words.

That's a GOOD reason for not saying, 'Never'.
I'm not sure why you mentioned the running/ran distinction.
Are you saying: 'When you decide to replace an -ing verb, you cannot just use the verb form without -ing. You must consider what form is really needed'?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Getting on the bus, I scanned my pass and flopped into the nearest seat.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I'm not sure why you mentioned the running/ran distinction.
Are you saying: 'When you decide to replace an -ing verb, you cannot just use the verb form without -ing. You must consider what form is really needed'?


Just the opposite. People use the "ing" form of the verb incorrectly. It is not interchangeable with the normal form of the verb (e.g., running vs ran). I see it done all the time in SOL stories. What the author said and what he meant aren't the same.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Getting on the bus, I scanned my pass and flopped into the nearest seat.


I'm not 100% sure, but I believe this is incorrect and what Prowritingaid is warning against.

You can scan your pass while getting onto the bus, but you have to already be on the bus when you sit down.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat


Got it. The original. 'Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat' means the scanning is still happening when they flop down.

But my version, 'I scan my bus pass getting on and flop into the nearest seat' means only the scan and get on were concurrent, and the flop comes later.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

You can scan your pass while getting onto the bus, but you have to already be on the bus when you sit down.

I'm glad I asked.
If you decide to use an -ing verb, you need to be cautious how long that action will be continuing.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

But my version, 'I scan my bus pass getting on and flop into the nearest seat' means only the scan and get on were concurrent, and the flop comes later.


I wonder if you need a "then" as in "and then flop into"

Replies:   Ross at Play
ustourist

@Ross at Play

Kicking dogs is cruel

Apart from changing the meaning by replacing the 'is' with 'are' which no doubt someone will mention, the statement is short and to the point.
Other alternatives removing the 'ing' reduce the impact.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I wonder if you need a "then" as in "and then flop into"

Agreed. I should have been more cautious while writing about showing caution.

docholladay

@Ross at Play

'Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.'


how about just a small change:
Scanning my bus pass as I got on, I flopped into the nearest seat.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


You can scan your pass while getting onto the bus, but you have to already be on the bus when you sit down.


I disagree. Finding a seat (if one is available) is what completes the process of getting on the bus.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

'Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.'


As a person who has made this error in the pass, I can say it's an interesting set of activities to be able to flop into the seat at the same moment they get on and scan the bus pass. Are they sitting on the stair?

This would make a lot more sense as:

After scanning my bus pass while I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

As this is SOL, its always correct to start a sentence with "Fucking".

sejintenej

Screaming it's head off the kid ran down the mall corridor, hotly persued by a young girl

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

Screaming it's head off the kid ran down the mall corridor, hotly persued by a young girl


It's?

1. It's is always a contraction of it is or it was. The possessive of it is its, no '.

2. It is never used for people, therefore the kid must be a young goat. Why the fuck is the young girl chasing a young goat in a mall? Why is the goat in the mall in the first place? How did it get in the mall?

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Prowritingaid.com flags all sentences beginning with an -ing verb form. Their explanation is they may make it impossible to avoid awkward sentence constructions.

The problem with these tools is that they don't specifically flag problems--like spell checkers do--instead they flag every use of something and leave it up to the author to decide whether it's valid or not.

Like you pointed out when I asked about cliches, they often make mountains out of molehills, and entire categories of tools should routines be ignored as worthless.

They're primarily aimed at classroom writings or blog posts, so they're utterly unable to deal with fictional stories written in the 3rd person, past tense stories, or a variety of other valid storytelling techniques.

In this case, I routinely ignore this warning. If you start every sentence with a bland "pronoun/noun verb action" sentence, is that every sentence sounds boring! You typically start with -ing words to vary the pacing of the sentences, provide a sense of immediacy and vary the tempo. There's nothing wrong with that. Like everything, you can overdo a technique, but for now, I'd ignore the "don't use" advice.

@richardshagrin

As this is SOL, its always correct to start a sentence with "Fucking".

"Screwing the bus--after all, who needs all that flop sweat--I ran alongside the bus while watching the girl I was obsessing over." Yep. That passes the classic SOL 'creepy' test. ;D

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Screwing the bus


How was he screwing the bus? Was he sticking his dick in the tail pipe? Considering the temperature of most vehicle exhaust, I would think that would be a bit dangerous. :)

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The problem with these tools is that they don't specifically flag problems--like spell checkers do--instead they flag every use of something and leave it up to the author to decide whether it's valid or not.


What's the problem with that? It's a red flag for the author to analyze and make the decision.

I don't use a tool (other than Word's spell and grammar checkers), but I have my own red flags. -ing words is one of them, and not only beginning a sentence. The "to be" (was) verb is another. When I see those words I make sure the sentence reflects what I'm trying to say.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

What's the problem with that? It's a red flag for the author to analyze and make the decision.

It's not a problem with a tool, I'm just reminding Ross that often, it flags issues which aren't significant issues for many authors, and that the issues it highlights are often more important for non-fiction writing.

Autocrit has a couple of features which I heavily rely on (notably, the repeated word and sentence length reports), while there are entire reports I categorically ignore. They do highlight potential issues, but they're not issues I'm worried about.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Autocrit has a couple of features which I heavily rely on (notably, the repeated word and sentence length reports)


My spelling is atrocious and my grammar almost as bad. So I rely on tools to check them.

But for repeated words and sentence length I don't want a tool. I trust my ear on those.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

But for repeated words and sentence length I don't want a tool. I trust my ear on those.

I trust my ear to fix them, but often, you don't notice a few obvious mistakes which aren't obvious, like how often you use certain words.

As far as spelling goes, I've always said that, as a youngster, I'd read the dictionary for enjoyment but couldn't use one to save my life as I couldn't spell well enough to look up any misspelled words. :( Google search has saved my literary life, since it guesses which word I intended to write, rather than what I actually wrote.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Google search has saved my literary life, since it guesses which word I intended to write, rather than what I actually wrote.


I use Google search for that as well. It's great.

Ross at Play

@docholladay

how about just a small change:
Scanning my bus pass as I got on, I flopped into the nearest seat.

Reasonable for this sentence on its own, but not in between two sentences in the present tense.

Replies:   docholladay
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I routinely ignore this warning ... Start every sentence with a bland pronoun ... sounds boring!

That's exactly the point Switch Blayde made in first reply to this thread. Thanks to both.
Also, thanks to Switch Blayde for noting once an -ing verb starts a sentence, that action continues through all other actions in the sentence, unless a then or similar is used to end it. Caution is needed, because that can create problems that are easy to overlook.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

After scanning my bus pass while I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.

I like that more than the writer's original version.
I'll mention your suggestion in my edit notes, but then recommend they use my suggestion: I scan my bus pass getting on, then flop into the nearest seat.
That's two words shorter!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I trust my ear on those.


I don't have enough experience to trust my ear yet. As CW noted, obvious mistakes aren't always obvious.

I've been using prowritingaid, PWA, (instead of autocrit) because it analyses 3,000 words (instead of 400) for free.

When I'm ready to subscribe, it will be autocrit. It seems to have extra features helpful for creative writing.

I use these reports by PWA which (sometimes) highlight changes worth making: passive & hidden verbs, repeated sentence starts, readability (e.g. superfluous that's), redundancies, grammar & spelling, sentence length & variety, diction (easier words),and consistency.

Within those reports, I routinely ignore split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. In the future, I'll check -ing verb reports to ensure the duration of that action is actually what the writer thinks.

The reports I consider a waste of time for creative writing are: overused words, -ly adverbs, cliches, sticky sentences, and vague & abstract words.

CW says he uses autocrit's repeated words check. I think PWA works differently, and only checks for overuse of words on a short list. I'm hoping autocrit counts the number of times all words are used, and then selects which to flag as potentially overused.

Also, my new author uses naturalreaders.com (note more than one reader) and finds it helpful.

It's good for hearing errors and inconsistencies introduced when editing, which happens more frequently for me than when writing first drafts.

I've doubts it's natural enough to hear when commas, etc. should be added or deleted. For those, I rely on reading aloud, because I then hear things I cannot see when reading.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

As CW noted, obvious mistakes aren't always obvious.


I have five things I rely to find and correct my mistakes and grammar issues.

1. TenDerLoin

2. Dan

3. The Rev

4. A re-read two weeks after their edits are added to the master file.

5. SoL / FS reader reports of errors.

Between the five we appear to catch everything. Even the mistakes caused by the submission wizard.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

I have five things I rely to find and correct my mistakes and grammar issues.
1. TenDerLoin
2. Dan
3. The Rev

Thanks, but ...
1. TenDerLoin WTF?
2. Dan WTF?
3. The Rev WTF?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Thanks, but ...


My main editors and story checkers, each looks for a different type of problem.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ross at Play

Scanning my bus pass as I got on, I flopped into the nearest seat.


Then just change 2 words:
Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.

Replies:   Ross at Play
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks, but ...
1. TenDerLoin


An often used editor with great skills. I have read many stories he has edited.

The others I haven't noticed that much however.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@docholladay


Scanning my bus pass as I get on, I flop into the nearest seat.


I'm going with Switch Blayde on this one (see his post 7/11/2016, 10:34:05 PM).

Without a 'then' before the 'I', that means the scanning is continuing during the flop.

Can anyone suggest a reason I should not recommend my author uses the shortest (13 words) unambiguous version: 'I scan my bus pass getting on then flop into the nearest seat'?

One valid reason already mentioned is they may want to break a string of sentences beginning with 'I'.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The reports I consider a waste of time for creative writing are: overused words, -ly adverbs, cliches, sticky sentences, and vague & abstract words.

Actually, I find the -ly adverb list useful, mainly because, after reviewing, I can normally cut my adverb use way back. Not only that, but I traditionally eliminate the majority of duplicate adverbs, which makes the story easier to read (often you'll get words stuck in your head and it's hard getting them out again).

Autocrit doesn't check for all repeated words, just what it considers 'significant' words used within a couple paragraphs of each other. It's especially good if you use the same word multiple times in the same paragraph, something often easy to overlook since you're already expecting to see the words.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


The reports I consider a waste of time for creative writing are: overused words, -ly adverbs


Using an adverb isn't by itself bad. Stephen King said, "Adverbs are the road to hell," yet he uses them. Those who say not to use adverbs don't mean never use them. But an adverb is a red flag and the use of it should be analyzed (which I guess is what the report is for).

So why is an adverb a red flag?

1. It may be an indication of you using a weak verb. Verbs bring a story to life so you want to use good ones. "Ran" is a weak verb which, to make it stronger, needs an adverb like "quickly." But if you use a better verb, like "dashed," "sprinted," "bolted," etc. you don't need the adverb.

2. If you believe in "show don't tell," adverbs are typically telling. "He said, angrily" is telling the reader he said it angrily. But in most cases it's better to show his anger by his words and actions. When you do that you no longer need the adverb.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I scan my bus pass getting on, then flop into the nearest seat.


I don't believe that's correct. I don't think you can use "then" as a conjunction (I do it all the time and it gets flagged by Word's grammar checker). It has to be "and then."

Here's a good site on conjunctions and a few other things:
http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm

Replies:   sejintenej  Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Using an adverb isn't by itself bad. Stephen King said, "Adverbs are the road to hell," yet he uses them. Those who say not to use adverbs don't mean never use them. But an adverb is a red flag and the use of it should be analyzed (which I guess is what the report is for).

I review dialogue tags for the same reasons I review -ly verbs. Most dialogue tags TELL the reader what's happening ("he instructed"), and are better (in some opinions) replaced with the virtually-invisible "said". While most of my -ly adverbs are unnecessary, they describe things which are obvious without them, others work better expressed other ways.

Again, it's best to review the things you assume work. Often when you examine them, they don't work as well as you expect.

Although I'm good at eliminating "have" and "had" verb forms, I'm terrible at eliminating "was", typically replacing the others with additional "was"s.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Note: Based on an earlier comment of yours, Switch, I've been paying more attention to my "be"


Sometimes "was" is passive voice when active is better. But the reason it's a red flag for me during my edits is because it often goes along with an -ing word that is incorrect.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

But adverbs are similar to "filler words" like "that", "then" and "just". They often just get dumped into a story while added little to the overall plot


Other than "very," I haven't found that. The adverb isn't a filler word. It's needed. But often, as I outlined previously, it can be done better without the adverb. But in those cases you can't just drop the adverb since it has significance. You just find a better way to express it.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

It is never used for people, therefore the kid must be a young goat. Why the fuck is the young girl chasing a young goat in a mall? Why is the goat in the mall in the first place? How did it get in the mall?

Love it!
You are really going to get crucified by the sexism mob and half the churches when they find out that you refer to her head when it was a boy. If you don't know the sex don't guess because there is a 50% chance you are wrong.
Yes, the French would always refer to the child as a boy but that is the French thing!

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

If you don't know the sex


you use the neutral they and their

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@sejintenej

Yes, the French would always refer to the child as a boy but that is the French thing!


I was once in a Mexican restaurant where the owner addressed me and my wife as Seniors. I called him on it. He said in Spanish, when the two are boy and girl, they are addresses as boys.

sejintenej

@Switch Blayde

I scan my bus pass getting on, then flop into the nearest seat.

I don't believe that's correct. I don't think you can use "then" as a conjunction ........ It has to be "and then."

I agree; we have had this out before. There are at least two totally different time periods involved - firstly getting on and scanning the bus pass and only after that is done secondly flopping into the nearest seat. Therefore a conjunction is essential and "and" is appropriate.

An alternative might be "After getting on and [then] scanning my bus pass I flop into the nearest seat". Again the time periods are separated.

(Before someone argues, it is normal to step up into the bus before you encounter the scanner so I have actually created three time periods).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

you use the neutral they and their


That hasn't been universally accepted yet. Grammar Girl has a good blog on it.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

You are really going to get crucified by the sexism mob and half the churches when they find out that you refer to her head when it was a boy.


The same people will crucify you twice as fast for using "it" to refer to a human being. Use the awkward he/she or the plural they as singular.

They/them is generally acceptable for singular unknown and that goes back to before the whole sexism thing, but I find it every bit as awkward as he/she.

Replies:   sejintenej
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

That hasn't been universally accepted yet. Grammar Girl has a good blog on it.


It may not be universally accepted, but it at least has some history to it with uses of a singular they going back at least to the 15th century

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they#Older_usage

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

That hasn't been universally accepted yet.


It's what i was taught as the accepted way if the gender is unknown, and that was back in the mid 1960s.

richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

Shakespeare asked in one of his plays, "to be or not to be, that is the question."

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

Shakespeare asked in one of his plays, "to be or not to be, that is the question."


So?

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

Switch Blayde tstamp = new Date(1468351387000);document.write(tstamp.toLocaleString());‎7‎/‎12‎/‎2016‎ ‎12‎:‎23‎:‎07‎ ‎PM2016-07-12 3:07:07pm
@Crumbly Writer

Note: Based on an earlier comment of yours, Switch, I've been paying more attention to my "be"

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

The same people will crucify you twice as fast for using "it" to refer to a human being. Use the awkward he/she or the plural they as singular.

I first went to Hell in February or early March 1964 and escaped. It was bl**dy cold.

As for he/she I do use that and the plural equivalent if I am referring to actual people and not imaginary ones.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


That hasn't been universally accepted yet. Grammar Girl has a good blog on it.


Sorry but I can't see this subject in her "Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing"


It may not be universally accepted, but it at least has some history to it with uses of a singular they going back at least to the 15th century

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they#Older_usage


Whilst I appreciate the support (if that it be) the examples (note the past tense in the introduction):

Alongside they, however, it was also acceptable to use the pronoun he as a (purportedly) gender-neutral pronoun,[22] as in the following:

"Suppose the life and fortune of every one of us would depend on his winning or losing a game of chess."— Thomas Huxley, A Liberal Education (1868);[23] quoted by Baskervill.[24]

"If any one did not know it, it was his own fault."— George Washington Cable, Old Creole Days (1879);[25] quoted by Baskervill.[24]

"No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."— Article 15, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).[26]


in each case start by making them clearly all-inclusive.

References to he/she were made in the 1800's:


nineteenth-century grammarians insisted on a singular pronoun on the grounds of number agreement, while rejecting "he or she" as clumsy.[33]


(from the above referenced Wiki page)

This followed the mid 1700's item


A recommendation to use the generic he, rather than they, in formal English can be found as early as the mid-18th century, in Ann Fisher's A New Grammar,


so there is some agreement even if it was from a woman who IN THOSE DAYS would not have been regarded as the fount of all knowledge. As the first published English language grammarian she did not cite others nor is she apparently widely cited.

I ignore the next paragraph referring to Ostade because she, a Netherlands lady, is merely reciting from 18th century female grammarans, presumably Ann Fisher

In conclusion, whilst there are arguments for using the masculine when referring to a person whose gender is not disclosed is the writer not thereby offending ladies in the age of claimed equality? Worse, the idea of "he or she" (or a modern equivalent he/she) has itself been condemned.

Edited to make the quotes clearer

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

Whilst I appreciate the support (if that it be) the examples (note the past tense in the introduction):


I made no claim that the singular they for indeterminate gender was ever universally accepted, only that it had considerable history to it that goes well beyond the modern gender wars.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

I first went to Hell in February or early March 1964 and escaped.


You've been to Michigan?

http://www.gotohellmi.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Replies:   sejintenej
Capt Zapp

@sejintenej

The same people will crucify you twice as fast for using "it" to refer to a human being.


Hate to say it, but with all the mess about 'gender identity', 'IT' may be the way to go instead of trying to list out all of the various 'choices'.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Capt Zapp

Hate to say it, but with all the mess about 'gender identity', 'IT' may be the way to go instead of trying to list out all of the various 'choices'.


That may be true, personally, I am inclined to go that way myself, but I'm not stupid enough to think it will ever be generally, much less universally accepted without a fight, a very ugly fight.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sejintenej


Sorry but I can't see this subject in her "Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing"


I googled "grammar girl they" and actually got two blogs on the subject. Here are the links:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/singular-they-has-its-day

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/generic-singular-pronouns

EDITED TO ADD:

I think the second one is the one I was referring to. The first one, I think, is a newer one because of The Washington Post's action to their style guide.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I first went to Hell in February or early March 1964 and escaped.


It appears I am not the only good thing to come out of Hell

https://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fs-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com%2F236x%2F35%2F49%2Ff9%2F3549f9cf45c0c6e7cc2eed3d27410e1f.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fkattenfelix%2Ffamous-norwegian-people%2F&docid=t7UwAuDmeGkeOM&tbnid=s_nYC_vYecvo4M%3A&w=236&h=318&client=firefox-b&bih=740&biw=1600&ved=0ahUKEwijxNzQgvHNAhXBCMAKHVRwDxsQMwhvKEMwQw&iact=mrc&uact=8

You've been to Michigan?

http://www.gotohellmi.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html


No. My son went there and was far from impressed

Apparently on one day early in January 2014 Michigan Hell was actually colder than where I was though references to -20°C there have to be an understatement

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

As for he/she I do use that and the plural equivalent if I am referring to actual people and not imaginary ones.

"Hises" and "Herses"?

tppm

Having started the first sentence with an "ing" word, and having not read any of the rest of the thread, I then continued with the rest of the story.

I.e. if anyone up there says it's not to be done, they're talking through their hat(?) ass(?) arse*(?).

*concession to Britspekers.

docholladay

@tppm

*concession to Britspekers.


To me it is the same as different accents. I love them for the variety, which is the spice of learning new ways of looking at things around me.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


something often easy to overlook since you're already expecting to see the words.


AN IMPORTANT point I think. Writers all have their personal overuse tendencies, and the mere fact they wrote something may make their objective assessment of it impossible (on occasions).

I just checked the output from a prowritingaid analysis after a detailed edit. There were very few things I had not already found.

I am coming to the view that these aids are a productive use of time in only a few situations.

I think one is by the author just after writing a first draft. Flags for grammar, -ly words, repeated sentence starts, long or sticky sentences may help authors find needed changes easily and early on.

Same probably applies after an author has many many changes after an editor returns a long list of comments. Authors often introduce mistakes elsewhere in sentences when changing their word choices.

For editors (or at least for how I work) it's better to look at them after a detailed manual review.

And surely, it would not hurt for a proof reader to run an analysis after they think something is ready for posting.

In all cases, some of the checks made by software are valuable, but some are only useful for technical writers, and for those creative writers should trust the human instead.

I noticed recently that a computer has finally beaten a master at the game Go. They managed that for the comparatively simplistic game of Chess a long time ago, so it's really quite an achievement. I will not hold my breath waiting for them to beat us in finding issues in good creative writing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

It has to be "and then."

Another little research project to add to my list. Thanks for clarifying the relevant point in your previous posts. This grammar stuff can be, like, really hard!

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

Therefore a conjunction is essential and "and" is appropriate.

That makes sense to me (I think). 'Then' will start the new action in a different time period, but you may still need to end the first action. You can achieve that by ending the current clause, so the conjunction is needed for the second action to be a new clause.
Have I got? Finally?

Ross at Play
Updated:

@tppm


having not read any of the rest of the thread ... if anyone up there says it's not to be done, they're talking through their hat


The consensus of the thread is -ing forms are certainly allowed, and can be very useful to break a series of sentences beginning with the same pronoun.

The thread then moved on to the care needed to ensure your sentence does not imply the -ing action is continuing when another action starts.

A lot of care may be needed, as you will see if you follow back my response just above to where SB finally convinced me 'and then' was needed in a sentence I thought was correct.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Same probably applies after an author has many many changes after an editor returns a long list of comments. Authors often introduce mistakes elsewhere in sentences when changing their word choices.

I typically run the analytics (autocrit) after I revise the chapter (final revision). Based on the results, I almost always result in shorter chapters (under 10% shorter), and I then submit the chapter to my editors for review.

As for computers beating us at creative writing, I'll consider it when a computer (without human guidance) manages to hit the NY Times bestsellers list!

Great writing (a far cry in itself from bestsellers) is marked by breaking rules, computer AI has never learned how to do that yet. The best they've done, so far, is creating 'realistic sounding' spam, although, many of your sports reporting and political headlines are currently written entirely by computers.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

many of your sports reporting and political headlines are currently written entirely by computers.


Just ask the runner Mister Homo-sexual about the computers writing headlines, if you don't believe it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Just ask the runner Mister Homo-sexual about the computers writing headlines, if you don't believe it.

The point is, most of the 'breaking headlines', especially those quoting random statistics, are automatically generated to hit the various news feeds before authors can get around to crafting a news release. The in-depth analysis takes time, but nowadays, who really wastes time with those anyways? :(

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

are automatically generated to hit the various news feeds before authors can get around to crafting a news release.

I got that, CW, however, I was also pointing out how the computers managing the finished product can screw up big time due to poor programming. many of the news media had software in them to be politically correct and adjust reporters articles to be so. Thus, when the US runner by the name of Gay won s bunch of medals at the Olympics or World Games, not sure which, many media programs replaced his name of Gay with the word Homosexual and the screw ups in the headlines and news reports got a much bigger coverage than his running performances did. It only highlights how hard it is to have a computer program get the final say correct all the time.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I got that, CW, however, I was also pointing out how the computers managing the finished product can screw up big time due to poor programming. many of the news media had software in them to be politically correct and adjust reporters articles to be so.

I got that too. It seems we're both speaking past each other to address separate issues.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I got that too. It seems we're both speaking past each other to address separate issues.


Situation normal all f'ed up.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Results, I can read and learn so many interesting facts. Of course that requires me to at least learn a little about what ever is being debated.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Results, I can read and learn so many interesting facts. Of course that requires me to at least learn a little about what ever is being debated.

Generally, Switch, Ernest and I agree on most issues, but we end up belaboring the most minor side-issues while agreeing with the main premise. Sometimes I feel it's like the choir arguing with itself instead of sticking to the right key. These issues don't actually affect the overall story in the least!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Sometimes I feel it's like the choir arguing with itself instead of sticking to the right key.


More like if the bass or tenors should drop an octave or go up an octave.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

As for computers beating us at creative writing

I wasn't discussing computers beating humans at creative writing, I was only mentioned 'finding issues', i.e. editing (things these programs claim they are assisting us with now). I think humans will be much better at analysing what other humans have written for a long time to come.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I think humans will be much better at analysing what other humans have written for a long time to come.


That depends on what you mean by better and what you are analyzing the writing for.

There is for example software out there to determine the author of a given work by comparing it to other works with known authors.

It's not more accurate than a human at this, though from what I have read on it, it's at least close to being as accurate. However it is definitely much faster than a human.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

There is for example software out there to determine the author of a given work by comparing it to other works with known authors.

It's not more accurate than a human at this, though from what I have read on it, it's at least close to being as accurate. However it is definitely much faster than a human.

That's a completely unrelated issue to what I was discussing, and it bores me to tears.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That's a completely unrelated issue to what I was discussing, and it bores me to tears.

It might bore you to tears--until you try it and determine that someone has stolen your story and passed it off as their own.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

YES, it is correct and a valid point for others.

My 'issue' is why it was directed at me.

I would have had no issue if the poster had opened with a phrase like, 'And now for something completely different.'

I interpret 'that depends on what you mean' to indicate the writer wants to correct me, or explain something I have missed.

I am struggling hard to learn things that are important. I don't want my time wasted by issues that may be important to others, but not to me.

I appreciate anyone commenting directly to points I am trying to discuss. And all jokes are always appreciated.

If anyone sees something I write that prompts an unrelated point they want to make, go ahead, but make a control+C of my quote, and post it into a Reply to Topic.

PLEASE, I am too busy doing important things to be bothered with your trivia. Many poster are wasting my time by making a Reply to my posts, when they could easily paste it into Reply to Topic.

To CW, your comment was helpful in this sense, writing a reply helped me figure just what it is that pisses me off so much, and so often, when all I want is to continue my learning process.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

My 'issue' is why it was directed at me.


Because you said:

I think humans will be much better at analysing what other humans have written for a long time to come.


Which is simply untrue as a global statement.

I provided an example of a type of analysis of writing where it isn't true.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I provided an example of a type of analysis of writing where it isn't true.

And as my reply in another thread points out (about learning how to apply rules), authors are often unsuccessful at learning what they don't already know. Learning by example is an inherently inefficient process, but it's better than learning via lectures ("Don't do this, do that").

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