Okay folks, it's time to understand sentence constructions. We often get tied into a patter of two or three of our favorites, maybe offering up something different now and again when the green squiggle of grammar grumpiness shows up.
The most common sentence constructions I've seen in fiction writing are:
Jimmy walked to the store. (Simple)
Walking to the store, Jimmy whistled. (Beginning with a gerund)
Jimmy, while whistling, walked to the store. (Parenthetical asides.)
Those three can become monotonous and beginning with a gerund is a construction that should be used as sparingly as possible as it lends itself well to telling, rather than showing. So today, we're gonna learn about prepositional phrases!! Ooo goody!:) No, really, this will be fun, if you don't let the grammar grumpies ruin the experience.
Just remember, PRE-positions. That's it, not hard at all, right?
So here are the rules:
The "pre" means it comes before the object. It's always got a buddy with it because it has to show the relationship between the word it modifies and itself:
All through the house, not a creature stirred.
So the prepositional phrase here: all through the house—modifies where its buddy, the creatures, didn't stir. Where didn't they stir? In the house of course!
Let's try another:
All across the country, Joe is an excellent mechanic.
Hmm… Something seems odd with that one, doesn't it?
Sure, maybe Joe is a traveling mechanic, but the sentence doesn't seem to match. This PREposition isn't really Joe's buddy. Now, if we make them buddies, see what happens:
Despite missing three fingers on his left hand, Joe is an excellent mechanic.
Now we've got a relationship going! The relationship between the PREpositional phrase and Joe here is obvious: Joe is overcoming a difficulty to meet and exceed the demands of his career.
So give it a whirl, begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase and share it in the comments. This is a great construction to switch starting a sentence with a gerund. After all, every solid writer needs a strong toolbox!