What “was” I doing?

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Writing

Okay, I admit it. I am not perfect.

Don’t let anyone know. I have a reputation to uphold.

My recent work has done a fairly good job of avoiding the lackluster word of ‘was’. Then I read what I wrote over the last week, and I slipped quite a bit. That word was everywhere.

Why should that matter so much? Let me tell you with the simplest of examples.

John walked toward her. His face contorted into a sneer that made her fear for her safety.

Compare that with the following:

John was walking toward her. His face was contorted into a sneer that made her fear for her safety.

It makes the written work more dynamic when you avoid the word was. Things are driven forward more. You also become more efficient in your word usage. I am not  saying you should never use the word. It should just be done sparingly.

In my most recent additions to my story I dropped the word was in often enough that it slowed down the story. It became more like hearing someone telling you a story third hand than being immersed in it. I was thrown out of my own story, and that is the last thing that an author wants to do.

You always want to avoid anything in your writing that will jolt the reader out of the story. Other examples include sudden changes in POV, a character doing something that goes against their nature for no obvious reason, etc.

Good thing that there is always the chance for an editing session.

  1. Marcia Richards says:

    Wait…you’re not perfect? 🙂

    • jmcmurray says:

      I am only perfect in the sense that I realize that I have a lot to work on. It is in those areas of imperfection that I show myself as being perfectly human. I see no problem in this. I revel in it infact. Without these flaws, hairline fractures if you will, we would lose the essence of the self. If I ever find myself looking upon a day where there is nothing to furtheror make greater, then it will be a sad day indeed for me.

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