I have recently noticed that I consistently follow an -ed clause with further action or elaboration using -ing. I feel like something is wrong here, even though it sounds and reads well enough to me. I'm relatively self-taught where writing is concerned and so I struggle a bit with the jargon, so bear with me if I have to ask for clarification.

Here's a snip; any feedback you have would be great:

The insinuation had the desired effect. Erim's fingers relaxed, showing a golden glint of sweat that had collected in his palms. The deep valleys and crevices of his worn fury relaxed into dry rivers along the landscape of his weathered face, his grim mask slowly melting into a look of consideration.

I see just glancing at it that I could just as easily change it to "and" without changing the meaning, but it doesn't feel any more or less acceptable.

Is this just a question of style?

2 Answers 2


I don't see anything wrong with the construction per se. It's just how English works for a structure that is action followed by consequence. It is far more important that your prose should seem natural than that it should be varied in structure.

That said, the passage you present as an example strikes me a overwritten. This kind of stuff may be okay in very small quantities, but it gets very tiresome very quickly. Remember that focus is key to storytelling. Where is the reader's focus supposed to be directed? The number of times it is desirable to direct the reader's attention to "deep valleys and crevices of his worn fury relaxed into dry rivers along the landscape of his weathered face" are few. They may not be zero, but they are few. You probably don't want to indulge in this kind of writing unless you are very sure it is essential to the story you are trying to tell.

Your sense that you may be overusing the ed/ing construction may come more from overuse of this kind of description rather than from any fault of the ed/ing construction per se.

  • I appreciate the feedback. :) I have trouble throttling off the paint gun, to be sure.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 18:39

This structure isn't bad itself, the problem may appear if you overuse it. Remember that diversity is key if you want to keep your reader's attention and give your text a pleasant rythm.

I once read a fiction in which the overuse of this scheme was so extrem that it was painful to read. Because you are essentially stopping the action to look at the consequences. I'd say you should avoid using this structure twice in a row, as it slows down the pace.

So no, it's not inherently bad to use this construction. You have to be aware of the effect it produces and use it accordingly.

Ask for feedback from honest third party and see what they think about your text. Put it aside for a few months and then read it again. See if your text needs some rewriting or not.

You could also do some research by reading works from several different authors, professionals and amateur.

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