Sunday, October 26, 2008

Verbs, verbs, verbs

I ran across an article yesterday by James Van Pelt on writing mistakes made by rookies. Because I qualify as a rookie, I read what he had to say from start to finish. One point in particular caught my eye, which is that rookies rely too heavily on linking verbs: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been.

Immediately after reading that, I opened the story I'm currently working on and looked specifically for those verbs. What I found shocked and horrified me. Every other verb had a "was" attached: was driving, was speaking, was walking. Ack! I had no idea I even did that. I changed all that I could to simple past tense: drove, spoke, walked. Suddenly my story lost 100 words. That's an issue with my own writing I'm now aware of and can avoid. Thank you, Mr. Van Pelt.

2 comments:

Jim Van Pelt said...

Hi, Jennifer. Glad to help!

You should order, immediately, Ken Rand's little book called The 10% Solution. Ken will show you how to go through your manuscript looking for a bunch of other habits that clog up our writing. The linking verbs are just one.

He asked me to blurb the book when it first came out, and I thought it only fair that I try what he suggested on one of my manuscripts. I lost well over 10% of the words without changing a single action or scene. The story sold to the next market I sent it.

Jennifer Campbell-Hicks said...

Thank you for the suggestion! I will definitely check out that book.