Use the more active (simple present) form of a verb

Here’s a way you can immediately improve the quality of your writing.

Don’t do this:

Jeremy is sprinting down the street.

Do this:

Jeremy sprints down the street.

Not only does using the simple present verb form streamline things, it makes your writing more compelling.

Sometimes you may be tempted to use the more passive “is [sprinting]” to indicate we’re joining a scene in the middle of an action. But it’s totally unnecessary. The simple present verb form still accomplishes the same thing and in a more professional manner.

NOTE: If there’s a secondary clause to the sentence, it’s perfectly valid to use an “ing” form of a verb.

For example:

Nicole topples over the cliff’s edge, plummeting to the rocks below.

Stylistically, it would also be acceptable to write the action as follows (splitting the one sentence into two):

Nicole topples over the cliff’s edge. Plummets to the rocks below.

It just depends on the style, pacing or emphasis you’re going for.

Another problem I see exclusively in amateur scripts…

Don’t do this:

Clark, scrambling through the bushes.

Again, do this:

Clark scrambles through the bushes.

This is an extremely important “rule,” guys and gals. Ignore this one at your peril.

Any questions?