Chasing the ‘WAS’ Monster

I’ve been thinking about this post for some time now and kept asking myself if I’m qualified enough to write it. I decided that even if I haven’t fully learned how to wrangle this beast, I’m still going to pass on what I’ve learned.

Every time I release a new book, I hope it’s better than the last. Not saying that my first releases weren’t good, but I honestly believe that the more I write, the more I grow as an author.

So, what’s a WAS monster? If you’re a writer, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. If you’re not a writer, then maybe I shouldn’t be telling you! I risk having you go back to my older books and look for ‘was.’ You’ll find it. Frequently. Was isn’t such a bad thing, (especially in dialog), but what I’ve learned is that it can be improved on. For the most part, taking was out of the equation brings more action to a sentence.

For instance, instead of saying: The man was walking down the street, I’d simplify it to: The man walked down the street. It goes from being passive to active. Simple, but effective.

And here’s the funny thing…once you start tackling this monster, you’ll find really creative ways to dig deeper into your character’s point of view.

I’ve been working on a rewrite of my first manuscript. I came to this ‘was’ sentence: When Reverend Brown announced their engagement and upcoming wedding, it was no surprise to the congregation.

Not a bad sentence, right? Well…when I looked at it, I thought, that’s kind of flat. Besides, this is an important part of the plot. I needed to make an improvement. That simple sentence became this:

When Reverend Brown announced their engagement and upcoming wedding, the congregation stirred with instant chatter. It didn’t surprise Claire. They’d expected it for some time. If they only knew the truth. Now that would create real chatter. The kind of gossip they’d love to share.

In my opinion, a HUGE improvement. I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having doing a ‘was’ word search. I believe that little trick alone will substantially improve my work. Let me know what you think!

I don't care about 'was' I just want a cookie!

I don’t care about ‘was’ I just want a cookie!

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2 thoughts on “Chasing the ‘WAS’ Monster

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