Dangling Modifiers Don’t Have the Right Word to Modify

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is now available. See details below.

Two weeks ago, I gave examples of misplaced modifiers. Today we’ll look at examples of dangling modifiers: phrases or clauses that are not logically related to the words they modify. They jar and confuse readers.

Participial phrases can be dangling modifiers. Watch out for those -ing verb forms.

Examples

1. Confusing: Listening for the cat, the feline scratched the door.

This says the feline was listening for the cat. Unlike misplaced modifiers, dangling modifiers take more work to fix.

Clear: While I listened for the cat, the feline scratched the door.

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2. Confusing: Taking photos of the barn, my camera fell into manure.

Here, my camera was taking photos of the barn.

Clear: I snapped photos of the barn. When I stumbled, I dropped my camera, and it fell into manure.

3. Confusing:  Looking at the sea, a ship battled the waves.

This sounds like the ship looked at the sea.

Clear:  Jim looked at the sea. A ship battled the waves.

Not all Dangling modifiers are participial phrases. Sometimes adjectives have no noun or pronoun to modify.

Examples

1. Confusing: Tired, the bed was inviting.

Because no person is mentioned, the bed was tired?

 Clear:  Tired, I wanted to crawl under the bed’s covers.

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2. Confusing: Wary, guns were drawn.

Hmm. Guns were wary.

Clear:  Wary, police officers unholstered their guns.

Or how about an adverbial phrase.

3. Confusing: After a few unsteady steps, the dish flew from Gordon’s hand.

Here, the dish took a few unsteady steps.

Clear: After a few unsteady steps, Gordon tripped, and the dish he held flew from his hand.

Opening modifying phrases need to have something to modify in a sentence, or they modify something else.

Can you share a humorous example of a dangling modifier?

The Kindle copy of Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is now available! Buy link.

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author



9 Writing Tips from Author Pamela S. Thibodeaux

My guest today is Pamela S. Thibodeaux. She will share her writing advice with us. More about her new book, Love in Season, follows her post.

Pam’s Tips

1. Read. Read extensively in your genre and out. Take note of phrases and descriptions that capture your imagination or make your heart sing and mind race. I’ve yet to meet a writer who isn’t an avid reader!

2. Write. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, or 2-3 days a month, just make time to write consistently. Don’t worry if it’s drivel to begin with just write. Whether you’re at a desk, the kitchen table, the library, or a coffee shop, get in the habit of sitting in your writing space and putting words on paper (or computer, notebook, or iPad). Forget the rules and write the book you want to read! You can always check for publisher guidelines and edit/revise your project to fit, but those first drafts can be whatever you want them to be!

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3. Edit. Most projects need a minimum of 3 edits. Initial where you check for plot holes and pacing. Second pass where you layer in descriptions, the five senses, etc. Third round where you check for grammar, punctuation, etc. Make sure you take at least two weeks to a month between edits! If you don’t, chances are you’ll miss mistakes that could cost you a contract or precious time in edits after the contract. While you’re letting this project cool, start another! Keep several projects in the works at all times so you don’t worry this one to death.

4. Query/Submit. At some point you’ve got to turn that baby loose. Even if your initial submission is to a critique partner or group, don’t let fear stop you from getting the feedback necessary to help you grow as a writer and produce the best work you can. Again, keep writing while you wait to hear back from your submission.

5. Revise, Re-submit, Resell. This applies mostly to articles and essays but sometimes you can even revise/rewrite a story and sell it elsewhere. Make sure you abide by any current or previous contract limitations. If someone doesn’t normally take reprints, be sure to let them know the extent of changes you’ve made that add a whole new twist to the version you’re querying about or submitting to them.

6. Promote. Okay you’ve sold a book or two or a dozen articles. There’ll be no (or very few) sales, reviews, or new opportunities, if you don’t let people know! Set up a website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page. Spend a few hours a week building your fan base and readership. When you do a book signing or speaking engagement, ask for the name and address (email too) of everyone who buys a book! This is your readership. Ask to add them to your mailing/newsletter list. Don’t bombard them but keep in touch on a regular basis, whether that is monthly, quarterly or even annually.

7. Keep good records. Writing is a business and even unpublished authors can claim business expenses such as office supplies, ink, business cards, etc. Check with a CPA or tax preparer and don’t miss out on these valuable deductions, especially when you begin to make money!

8. Take Care of Yourself. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or hand grenade and we have a hard time focusing on writing. Don’t worry about your career at this point. Take the time you need to recover and/or regroup and start over. Real writers never quit. We may take an extended leave of absence but at some point, we always return to our passion.

9. Don’t Quit! Writing is a gift and a talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent.

What is your biggest challenge in writing?

PBG print ~ PBG ebook ~ Kindle

Anytime is the perfect time for love. 

In this anthology, author Pamela S Thibodeaux brings together eight of her most beloved romance stories—one for each season plus four holidays that revolve around love and family. 

Includes two brand new stories!

I’ve always admired the covers Pelican Book Group creates for their titles and when I first received the cover for Love in Season, I thought – how sweet, but a closer look revealed a whole lot more than a couple on a bench in front of a lovely tree. 

If you took a passing glance, look again….

What do you see?

Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are all depicted within the leaves and branches of this tree!

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Links:

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com   

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pamelasthibodea/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1268453.Pamela_S_Thibodeaux

Misplaced Modifiers Confuse Your Readers

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is now available. See details below.

A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause placed awkwardly in a sentence. The modifier is improperly separated from the word it modifies and appears to modify or refer to an unintended word.

Examples will make this problem clear. Misplaced modifiers are easy to fix.

1. Confusing: Callie told Missy she needed to bring tomorrow’s picnic lunch today.

If the author meant Callie told Missy today, the reader will wonder why Missy didn’t bring the lunch today. 

Clear: Today Callie told Missy she needed to bring tomorrow’s picnic lunch.

2. Confusing: Karl processed a complaint about loud music from Jessie.

Is the loud music or the complaint from Jessie?

 Clear: Karl processed a complaint from Jessie about loud music.

3. Confusing: The curved bird’s beak was orange.

Is the author talking about a curved bird?

Clear: The bird’s curved beak was orange.

4. Confusing: Junior climbed the escalator stairs that rose to the second floor quickly.

Is Junior climbing quickly or is the escalator rising quickly?

 Clear: Junior quickly climbed the escalator stairs that rose to the second floor.

5. Confusing: The truck towed the mangled teen’s car.

Is the teen mangled?

 Clear: The truck towed the teen’s mangled car.

6. Confusing: Have You Confused Your Reader with a Misplaced Modifier?

This post title could imply the reader has a misplaced modifier.

 Clear: Have You Confused Your Reader by Using a Misplaced Modifier?

7. Confusing: Jack took a pool filter to his boss filled with slimy algae.

Ew. Was Jack’s boss filled with slimy algae?

 Clear: Jack took a pool filter filled with slimy algae to his boss.

As we write, we can easily fail to notice these misplaced words, phrases, and modifiers. We know what we meant. To catch misplaced modifiers, first let the document sit awhile. Then either read the document aloud or have your computer read it to you. The the order of phrases and words should sound awkward to you.

Can you share a humorous example of a misplaced modifier?

The Kindle copy of Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is available for pre-order. AND if you bought or buy the print copy you can purchase the Kindle copy for $2.99. See Matchbook Price. Pre-Order Kindle

Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author