Don't Begin or Start to Do Something – DO IT!

I’ve written about this before, but after editing this book I did for LBF, I had to mention it again.

Don’t have a character start to do something unless you intend for them to be interrupted and not get to do. Otherwise, just have them do it.

For example, “Cathy started to cry.”

That’s okay as long as you add another sentence to it that says, “Cathy started to cry, but when she saw the other woman, she choked back her tears.”

Otherwise, you should just write, “Cathy cried.”

I’m editing a novel this morning, been working on it for a couple of weeks and am about finished with it, but the novel has the characters ‘starting to’ or ‘beginning to’ do things, but then they never DO them. What the writer really means is that they did it, but that’s not what he’s written.

“Becky picked Gracie up and started to sob with remorse…”

This would indicate that Becky started to sob, but didn’t actually follow through with it.

Change it to: Beck picked Gracie up and sobbed with remorse.

Yes, sometimes we begin to do things and then either choose to stop before we actually do them, get interrupted before we can finish, etc, but if you’re writing, it should be clear if you say ‘started to’ or ‘began to’ to something that you have the character follow through with the action and either DO IT or be interrupted so they can’t do it.

Plus, ‘started to cry’ ‘began to sing’ ‘started to walk’ all are wordy and will increase your word count, while your characters never actually DO anything. They’ll just sit around and START to do things, but never actually do them.

Imagine an entire novel of people starting but never finishing things. Tiring!

Anyway, watch this in your writing. Don’t have people start to do things; have them do them.


Love and stuff,