I received some critiques on my writing where the reader indicated it read fine but there was just something off about my tense. However, he couldn't put a finger on what, exactly, was wrong with it. I've been scouring for ages to uncover what could be a mistake in my learned writing and believe it's related to shifting tense.
Say the story was written in past tense. Here's an example of the shifted tense:
He walked to the store. Disapprovingly shaking his head at the banners, he continued onward.
From what I understand, the comma use here implies that he's disapprovingly shaking his head while continuing onward. Perhaps this is erroneous or jarring to the reader?
I could write it like so:
He walked to the store. He shook his head at the banners disapprovingly, and continued onward.
I'd like to avoid so many 'they did this' sentence starters, if possible. Breaking it up as in the first sample looks a bit nicer to me, but perhaps my tense is slipping in these areas and I'm unaware of it.
eg. Mrs. Mallory sees her returning son and, in her excitement, twisted her ankle rather badly. Her sister calls the doctor immediately.
I think this one example reads poorly even when the statement included in the commas is removed, as the sentence no longer carries the same tense:
Mrs. Mallory sees her returning son and twisted her ankle rather badly.
It should be:
Mrs. Mallory saw her son returning and twisted her ankle rather badly.
Is what I'm attempting considered a "timeless" noun phrase? Any help is appreciated!