Dec 12 Written by 

Are You "Beginning to" "Find Yourself"?

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When someone mentions the overuse of “beginning to” and “starting to” and “finding yourself” in prose writing, does your skin begin to redden? Do you find yourself thinking you should start to re-read your latest draft and begin to red-flag these common but unnecessary phrases?

First Draft: Todd was beginning to light his cigarette when he saw Anne beginning to cry.

Better: Todd was lighting his cigarette when he saw Anne crying.


First Draft: Once again I found myself at the beach house without the key.

Better: Once again I had arrived at the beach house without the key.

First Draft: I am considering asking him to start filling my prescription again.

Better: I am considering asking him to fill my prescription again.

First Draft: I found myself growing increasingly self-conscious.

Better: I felt increasingly self-conscious.

Seek and root out "beginning to" "starting to" and "finding" (except when you mean "finding" as in "finding buried treasure"). You will find yourself beginning to write better prose!

Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.