How Do You Feel About Gerunds?

I am sitting in my car thinking about how much I use gerunds in my writing, those pesky little -ing words meant to show immediacy. According to recent feedback from my editor, the answer is too much.

Did you notice the first sentence had two? I could have gone for three. I could have said “I am sitting in my car thinking about using gerunds in my writing.” That might have made my point more, but it was implying future use of gerunds, so it wasn’t as effective.

Like most current fiction, my book is written in third person past tense, but I still find myself sprinkling in gerunds. Here’s an example:

Lindsey tried to talk to the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone was ringing and she got up and left.

This is a clumsy example from an early draft, but you get the idea.

What about this instead?

Lindsey exchanged a few words with the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone rang and she got up and left.

I think it still kept a sense of immediacy. I’m still not happy with the sentence, but it’s closer.

What about you? I challenge you to go on a gerund hunt. You may be surprised at what you find.