Challenge yourself to create more vivid writing.
I appreciate the advice from children’s writer Christian Harder Tangvald: “Circle every is and was on your manuscript; you don’t want writing that’s “isy” and “wasy.”
So I checked each use of was while I edited the 60,000-word YA novel. It started with 942. I cut that to 786.
The word isn’t evil; but it’s often slothful. These before-and-after examples show you reasons to see each use of was an invitation to more dynamic writing.
Original: It was one of Mom’s security guards, he had a round face and wore a navy suit.
Revised: One of Mom’s security guards, he had a round face and wore a navy suit.
Original: An individual on death row having their final meal was closer to my state.
Revised: I felt like someone on death row having their final meal.
Original: Your father was unable to make eye contact as he said goodbye.
Revised: Your father couldn’t make eye contact as he said goodbye.
Original: He was lying on the sofa in Mom’s office.
Revised: He lay on the sofa in Mom’s office.
Original: No, my love had died, she was killed in a hit and run.
Revised: No, my love had died, killed in a hit and run.
Original: Mom’s manicured hand was on the door knob.
Revised: Mom’s manicured hand appeared on the door knob.
Original: The envelope was written in the same handwriting …
Revised: The envelope had the same handwriting …
Original: The light was a lantern hanging from a metal pole that was stuck into a gray rock wall.
Revised: A lantern hung from a metal pole stuck into the gray rock wall.
As you edit your work, look for this weak verb construction — and ways to change it from “wasy” to wonderful.