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.