Writing style guidelines on gerund (ab)use

In novel writing, there is general advice not to use gerunds (i.e. verb forms ending with -ing). In general, that makes sense. "She was going to the store" -> "She went to the store". It’s shorter and more immediate.

However, it has an implication of simultaneous action rather than sequential action and so I often use it and probably do so too often.

Example 1:

"John descended from the bus, wrapped his trenchcoat around himself, and watched his breath fog into the cool air."


"John descended from the bus, wrapping his trenchcoat around himself and watching his breath fog into the cool air."

In this case, "wrapping and watching" implies that it’s happening while he descends from the bus.

Example 2:

"The group huddled together in the little passageway and looked out over the quad."


"The group huddled together in the little passageway looking out over the quad."

Here the gerund reduces the word count.

So the question is: how strict is the style guide to avoid gerunds? What are the situations where you might break the rule? And what are the real reasons for being down on it? What’s the rule behind the rule, if you like?

Edit: Apologies. I got my definition wrong for gerunds.

Here’s a source for avoiding -ing words generally:
Avoid -ing words


There is no advice for avoiding gerunds in novels that I have ever read or even heard of. So, to answer your question, the style guide is not strict, because there is no such thing. There is no generally accepted or popular rule for not using gerunds in novels.

Source : Link , Question Author : Dr Xorile , Answer Author : FeliniusRex

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