Friday, March 20, 2015

Dangle much?

I saw this on George Takei's Facebook feed, and just had to make a blog post about it. The sub-header on this photo is abysmal! Let's correct the word order so it reads the way it was intended: "After getting made fun of, thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy."

What's the problem? A dangling modifier: "After getting made fun of" is a modifier that tells why thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy. But the way this sentence is worded, it looks like the women were getting made fun of, and that's why they're dancing.

The headline has the right of it, though. The man was recorded dancing at a club and shamed online, and thousands of women saw his story on the internet and decided to host the dance party.

The sentence obviously doesn't work the way it was originally written, and just changing the word order doesn't help. So, for clarity's sake, we're going to pretend it was written like this: "Thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy after he was made fun of online." Or something like that.

Dance on!


  1. I am ashamed to admit that I could have easily written that sentence and not caught the mistake. Ugh. Back to the drawing board.

  2. I know, right? I've done it myself - wrote a brilliant Facebook post and re-read it a bit later and am horrified! We know what we're going to say, so of course what we end up typing makes perfect sense! Only after we go back and look at it with fresh eyes can we see how much sense it really isn't making.

    That's why I always tell authors to put away their manuscripts for at least a couple of weeks before doing revisions. And during that couple weeks, read some stuff! Write some stuff! THEN come back and have a look at that manuscript. Once you're looking at it with fresher eyes, you'll see a lot that you thought was perfectly clear the first fifteen times you wrote, re-wrote, deleted, put back, and re-wrote again.

    Then you can send your manuscript for editing, where someone with no knowledge at all of what you MEANT to say will read your work, and make sure that your story is going where you intended. They'll make sure your modifiers aren't dangling and that your subjects and predicates are in full agreement. They'll un-run your run-ons and defragment your fragments. Because it's just not fair to expect writers to build worlds, create characters, construct and resolve plots, AND do grammar. All that awesome can't usually fit into one person!

    Thanks so much for commenting! I really appreciate that you stopped by.