Watch out for the Dangling Participles

Writing a book is like building a house with a chisel, saw, and a box of Cocoa Puffs. As soon as you pour the foundation, you find out it isn’t level so you have to re-pour the cement floor. The door fits at the top, but not at the bottom so you have to stick shims in the frame. The window fits like a glove but the shutters are the wrong color and you spend most of the day looking for the right color.

Chapter 2 plods along like an old lady at a flea market. You need synonyms for the word “mound.” How would you describe the female breast? There’s a dangling participle in Chapter 5 that needs either an ambulance or a preposition. You have too many people sitting on the couch because it only has three cushions and there’s a dog on somebody’s lap. It’s not easy. There’s a traffic jam of words in this book that fail to describe the situation and you have accepted the mission impossible of linking them in a coherent order.

One day leads to the next and finally you arrive at the denouement. The unraveling. Characters have died and you have to account for them. It fits. Your book has a roof, drywall, and insulation. Now in the second draft you have to add some paint and finesse.

Congratulations you have written a book! Even if it isn’t done yet, you’ve accomplished what few writers before you have done–you’ve finished something. Now open that box of Cocoa Puffs and grab your hammer and nails. There’s work to do before you can hit the “PUBLISH” button.

Patricia Childers is a writer and editorial development editor at MBH Publishing Co., and she is an advocate of good writers who strive to be better writers. She has a book in process titled “Too Much is Never Enough,” a mystery set in Georgia. She can be reached at

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