Posted by Linda
How many times have you reread a sentence and found yourself laughing. Or, at your critique group, someone read your manuscript and everyone giggled. Embarrassing, to say the least. You probably put a clause, phrase, or participle where it modified the wrong noun or pronoun. Example: “We saw the flowers walking in the garden.” What the writer meant was “While walking in the garden, we saw the flowers.”
"When still a puppy, I taught Fido to shake hands.” Were you a puppy? Add a noun or pronoun to correct the meaning. "When he was still a puppy, I taught Fido to shake hands." Or take "I" out – “When still a puppy, Fido learned to shake hands."
Can you reword these sentences so they say what you mean?
“Being in a dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house very cheap.”
“As a mother of five, with another on the way, my ironing board is always up.”
“Wondering irresolutely what to do next, the clock struck twelve.”
Orphaned pronouns also cause misunderstanding in a sentence. "The dog bit my tire and then it sprang a leak." Although the pronoun "it" is closer to tire, it still seems to refer to the dog because of the word "then." Instead, say "My tire sprang a leak when the dog bit it."
If a modifier rests too far from the word it modifies, the meaning can be confusing, amusing and/or distracting. "Later I saw the dog with a girl on a long leash.” If we place the phrase closer to dog, we correct the meaning. "Later, I saw a girl with the dog on a long leash."
Remember, when you condense words to write tight, that you need to avoid the mistakes shown above.