Echoes, especially ING

In the right place and at the right time, alliteration is the ultimate mark of good writing.  However, I would not enjoy reading whole pages of alliteration.  That would seem a bit contrived to me.

Echoes are trashy cousins that should always be avoided.  Gerunds are perhaps the most frequent and offensive of all echoes that I read.  Definition:  A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding ING.  Definition:  Alliteration:  The repetition of the same consonant sounds or of different vowels sounds or syllables.  My personal definition of alliteration is writing poetry in the middle of your prose.  Hard!

Fishing is fun.

Dating is not fun.

I love all the socializing.


Participial phrases at the beginning of your sentences if used to excess can also sound like distracting echoes:

Walking quickly down the road, I lost my hat.

Shooting as fast as he could, he slew two bad guys.

Pigging out at the feast, I had to roll my self home.

One are two is okay.  Too many and you really start to sound stupid.  Rule of thumb is no more than one participial phrase per page—two on one page—at the most outrageous daring.

Special note:  A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence modifies the noun that comes immediately after it, so if you write:  Being in a seedy condition, Tim bought the house cheap. (This sentence literally translates as:  Tim was in a seedy condition.) Rewrite:  Being in a seedy condition, the house did not cost Tim too much money. Of course, I know what you meant to say, but editors and critics will laugh at you and say that you are an ametuer.  In the literary world we call that an embarrassing mistake.


Echoes can happen without the ING.  Be careful to listen for them in your writing:

The Eskimo lived in a domed home, but he liked to roam the snow fields.

She sang a silly song, while watching a soap and slicing a tomato.

Avoid Echoes, unless, of course, you want to be the next Dr. Seuss.  Whahah!


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