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When Frank Ball was a kid learning English, he wasn’t always clear on the meaning of words. In a business he noticed a sign Off-ice, and wondered if this place was warmer or colder than an ice house. His dad drove a Ply-mouth, and he wondered what eating had to do with automobiles. As an adult, he has learned to appreciate the application of words to unexpected meanings.
The King of Ing
At a mentoring clinic with Cec Muphey, Frank Ball learned how the progressive -ing verbs can be passive, weak writing. They often hinder the story’s rapid movement forward and sometimes show an ongoing action when a completed action was intended. For example, if we say, “John was buttoning his shirt,” we might wonder if he ever finished. What we really mean is: “John buttoned his shirt,” so that’s what we should say.
The Myth of Ith
On the train to the airport, Frank Ball grabbed a book on writing and settled in for the forty-five minute ride. As he did mental exercises, flipping scenes and creating unexpected twists, he came across a paragraph describing the painful sentence constructions made necessary because we have no singular pronoun for a person who might be either “he” or “she.”