Jami G said: Okay, I found this sentence that has an opening *ing phrase. My first stupid question is: Is this a PPP? It seems like it is, but it "feels" different than the others I've been trying to fix. My second question is (assuming it is a PPP): How could I fix this without ruining the rhythm or impact of the sentence?
Hating how he’d made her feel, she hoped her knees wouldn’t buckle and betray her weakness.
Yes, you're right, it's a PPP. "Hating" is the participle. Why does it feel different? Well, "hating" is a static verb, about a feeling, not action, and feeling verbs usually aren't great in PPPs (which are about ACTION, and there's no action in a feeling). Also, remember what Theresa said about temporary -- PPPs are about moments, not conditions. In that moment, that very moment that Action 1 is taking place, Action 2 is taking place-- that's the purpose of the PPP. Does she only hate the way he makes her feel in the very same moment she's hoping her knees wouldn't buckle? Or does she hate this for a longer time than that?
This also feels like a cause/effect thread. He makes her feel X. She hates it. Because she feels this way, and because she hates it, she's afraid her knees might buckle, betraying her weakness.
Notice that I put the participle at the end there, as I see the simultaneity as being Knees buckling will betray her weakness. That is, up to that, the action (emotional action?) seems sequential.
This doesn't all have to be in one sentence. I am learning I like shorter sentences than many do-- that doesn't mean I'm right, but I'd probably put that in two sentences. Why? Hmm. Because I think her hating the way he makes her feel is the important thing, so why relegate it to a phrase? But a SVO would be really clunky:
(THIS IS BAD!) Hating the way he made her feel (long subject, clunky!) made (verb) her fear that her knees would buckle and betray her weakness (long object-- what did this make?)
So that's terrible. :)
She hated the way he made her feel. Now that he was looking at her (whatever way, whatever made her feel that way-- anyway, I'd put something in there from HIM), she hoped her knees wouldn't buckle and betray her weakness.
Why not betraying as I suggested above? I think because it wouldn't be clear what the phrase modified. Let's look at the poss-es:
...she hoped her knees wouldn't buckle, betraying her weakness.
What would betray her weakness? She and her hoping? Or her knees buckling? "Betraying" is at the end of the sentence, so it probably modifies "the buckling of her knees," but because that noun "buckling" doesn't actually appear, rather the verb "wouldn't buckle", and participles are adjectives and modify nouns, not verbs.... sigh. I think I'd just punt and do it with an "and" and a multiple verb (buckle and betray, though really, it's the knees buckling, not the knees themselves, that betray her... this is HARD!! Jami, you're so MEAN to make me have to think on a weekend!!).
Anyway, a participle shouldn't modify a noun that isn't really there-- the reader shouldn't have to invent a noun for the participle to work off (knees buckling, buckling of the knees), so my initial impulse to have a trailing participle doesn't stand up to analysis. :) You're right-- "And" works better to join those two things.
But do think about what's most important here-- the longer term hate, or the momentary hope? The more important element should be in a main clause if possible. If both are important, do two independent clauses-- a compound sentence, or two sentences. You are telling the reader what's important by the choices you make.
Okay, I did tell you that when I start thinking - it’s never good, right?:D
So um, here’s a goodie:
Moving quickly to steady her feet on the floor, while at the same time making sure that those faltering steps increased the distance between them, she nervously kept an eye on his doubled over profile.
Hmmm, my reasoning behind writing this sentence this way? Well, for starters, this is the third paragraph in a block of an action scene. When you read it back collectively it flows - but I do have to admit that if I took it out of that context I would want to rewrite it like:
She moved quickly to steady her feet on the floor. She was careful to use these faltering steps to her advantage and increase the distance between them while she nervously kept an eye on his doubled over profile.
I have no better excuse other than to say - the action is fluid even though the positioning of the characters has changed - so I did want to get the shift in the physical changes in the scene without disrupting the forward motion of the action. Crap. I do these things without thinking about them - is this wrong? I mean do you always edit these out? It’s not like I can’t do so myself, but in the few - (there were only two beginning ppps in five chapter of my current WIP) so it isn’t like I dump them in with flagrant abandon or anything – it’s just that sometimes it seems to work with the rhythm.
Signed Murphy, who can’t seem to stay off the hot seat!;)
Well, a friend of mine used to talk about "Dolly Parton sentences"-- top-heavy. :) That's when the introductory elements are a lot "heavier" or longer than the main clause. I think there's a purpose for that, a "feel" for that-- comic effect, for one (the anticlimax of the main clause can be humorous), and also maybe to convey a peltering, frantic action.
But you are burying the main clause, and how important the main clause is in that context, I don't know. But by the time we get to the main clause (which is usually the most important action), we've gotten tangled up. Here's how I'd edit, and keep in mind I don't have the context, and also that I go with a trailing adjective phrase (careful), but for some reason, I felt like all the action in one sentence, and the conclusion in another for emphasis maybe:
She moved quickly to steady her feet on the floor, careful to use these faltering steps to her advantage and increase the distance between them. All the while, she nervously kept an eye on his doubled(hyphen here, btw-- compound adjective before a noun)over profile.
I was going with a simple "She" opening in the last sentence, but I think you're right that "while" is important as there IS simultaneity. It's just the sentence gets too complicated (for me) when you have three major elements/actions in one. So the physical action in one, and the perceptive (noticing) action in the last. A sentence by itself will mean, of course, that THAT is the essential thing in the paragraph. Don't know if it is.
(Also, I don't get that "doubled-over profile". I guess to me "profile" is facial, and if his face is doubled over, well, that sounds scary. Do you mean his body is doubled over? I don't have any wise thoughts about this, but "doubled-over profile" makes me think of Mr. Rubber Face -- I saw him in a bawdy show in Dawson City, Yukon, many years ago, and had nightmares for years about this man who could make his mouth retract so much his nose almost touched his chin. :)
With long sentences, I try to read aloud, and if I can't get all the words out in one breath, I try to trim or break. The reader kind of instinctively might feel a sentence is too long if she senses she couldn't say it in one breath. (Faulkner would disagree, of course. :)
I wonder if "rhythm and flow" matter less to me than meaning, or if I'm just relying on intuition to get that right in the end? I don't know. I always have thought that rhythm is really important to me. I think I think (that's kind of cute-- thinking I think :) that meaning leads to rhythm, and if you get the meaning right, the rhythm will come.