The ‘As’ and ‘Had’ Horrors

A couple of little not-so-good habits we can all slip into – one easy to understand, the other a little less so for some.

I remember reading about the ‘had horrors’ when I was starting out. Most fiction is written in the past tense, so you can ended up with lots of things like If anyone had had a hard life, Fred had. The odd had had etc. is not so bad, and maybe sometimes inevitable, but with a bit of thought it isn’t too hard to find ways of preventing it cropping up too often (No one could teach Fred anything about how hard life could be).

The ‘as horrors’ is my own invention – or at least the term is – but it’s something I come across more often than the ‘had horrors’ in my work for the writers’ advice agencies.

It goes something like this:

Fred was breathing heavily as he realised he hadn’t been spotted…

Fred wiped the sweat from his brow as his smile grew…

It’s a bit like the run-on sentences I’ve mentioned in the past – the writer is trying to link two images or concepts that don’t really belong together, at least not in the same sentence. I can see how it arises – the desire to let the writing flow and avoid too many staccato sentences:

Fred was breathing heavily. He realised he hadn’t been spotted…

Fred wiped the sweat from his brow. His smile grew…

until it becomes a habit. Staccato sentence scan be affective sometimes, but when you want to let the writing flow it only requires a minor re-think to avoid the ‘as horrors’:

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Fred’s smile grew.

I haven’t any more to say on the matter as my mind turns to another cup of tea and work on a posting I had had in mind if I had not written this one.

About ramblesofawriter

Writer, thinker, tea drinker.
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