June 25th, 2019
THREE LITTLE WORDS
by Janet Le Clair
Three overused and inadequate little words;"IT." "HAD." "WAS." Let’s start with the word "IT" which could refer to just about anything, but is totally lacking in painting an enticing picture. I suggest using that word as seldom as possible, along with everywhere, everyone, everything. Again, no image on which to focus. Adverbs, the “LY’s,” should be used sparingly (ha) as well.
A good part of the time authors write in the present tense. The word "HAD" will definitely be necessary in many cases but I’ve found this word to be overused often and by professionals as well. Once you are in the past tense with the first “had” written, the reader most likely knows the action is a flashback or has already happened. After writing your piece, article, story, check for “had’s” to give you a visual of when this past tense verb was and wasn’t necessary.
And now on to the most used, most useless word of all,"WAS." Was is a verb and verbs should convey movement in the strongest terms possible. Was shows absolutely nothing. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” puts you, the author, in the position of making the most of those words by using the clearest, most picturesque verbs available. Count all the times you used WAS and make an effort to rewrite that sentence creating a more compelling and vivid action.
As you write, let these three little words be a trigger that leads to better, more colorful, more active copy. Also, sometimes nothing but the word "WAS" will do the trick so use it. Just not nearly as much. As always, use your thesaurus constantly. let your work sit overnight, read the manuscript aloud, and search for necessary revisions not consciously visible on your original draft.
Keep on writing!
May 1st, 2019
I noticed through the years, whenever people learn that I write, questions invariable bubble up and they usually fall into the following categories:
- I know that I have a book in me, and I should write it, but I don’t know how to start.
- My grammar just isn’t that good.
- I don’t have enough time, I’m just too busy.
- I don’t have a computer, or I’m not that good at computers.
Ok, let’s begin.
Number one is a valid point and my response, just start writing. It does not matter how you start your story, or if it makes any sense. Once the story is on paper, tablet or computer, it’s alive and will bring you back and suddenly you discover you are writing. Especially after you done about a dozen pages or so. Now you can go back and do some editing to make sense and order of what you have written.
Number two piggy backs on to number one. Grammar, or more accurately, syntax, the bane of my writing existence. I won't even list the definition of syntax, because it is mind-blowing. My sincerest advise, look for someone in your acquaintance circle who could help you. A person who has a good grasp of English can fix the writing. Stay away from English teacher, as a rule they are married to perfect grammar and this will be detrimental to your writing because in an effort to correct the same, they will delete and rewrite the very thing that makes your writing special.
Number three, my favorite. The lack of time in your busy schedule will force you to be concise in your writing. Always have a notebook with you, this way when you are waiting, write.
Number four, I started out writing on a portable, manual typewriter. A K-Mart special for $28. This dates me greatly and the reason behind mentioning this is that I was poor and broke most of the time. Paper was too expensive purchase and I would write on the back-side of discharged paper. The point I’m trying to make in today's world, libraries have computer you can use, phones can store large data and so do tablets. Your choice, but don’t let this stop you from writing.
Lastly, in the future, the conversation will tackle only a single subject. One thing though, I might have an occasional guest or so to write the conversation/blog.
So, off you go because the world needs writers and poets since we are its conscience.