12 April 2021

A Sea of "Was"

I said last week that I needed to get better at blogging. And what's the first step? Write a blog post! I also have to read more blog posts. I feel bad because I didn't visit a single blog for IWSG last week. I was just really exhausted and every time I tried, I could just not get my brain to focus enough to read any posts or come up with a comment. But it's a new week! So...baby steps! 

I'm still not actually writing, but I am EDITING! I have a love/hate relationship with editing. I hate doing it, but I love the results. It just feels so good to figure something out, or to rewrite a sentence to make it better. But getting there isn't always easy.

My big project right now is doing a search through all of the chapters of Uneven Lines for "WAS." Using forms of "to be" can often mean weak writing, so I'm trying to get rid of as many as I can. But here's the thing...there are a lot! I actually didn't even look at the number when I started (damn!) but here's a pretty typical looking page in my manuscript: 

YIKES.

I felt very sluggish when I started my first sweep. I didn't even want to look at my writing. I guess part of that is because I hate the first few pages and want to completely rewrite them anyway. But it did take me a while to actually get into the swing of editing. I would just stare at every single "was" and have no idea how to fix it. Sure, there were easy ones...something like "I was feeling," just change to "I felt." Easy peasy. But they're not all like that. 

A lot of these "was" instances just show me that the sentence could be rewritten to be more showing than telling. For instance, there's a whole paragraph in Chapter 4 where Jordan is describing a cupcake he's eating. One sentence that popped up in my search was, "There was a tang mixed in with the sweetness that I couldn’t quite figure out." I know this sentence could be better. In fact, I never liked it, but I couldn't really figure out WHY until I did my search. I realized it was a very telling sentence. I think "tang" is a good word for showing (maybe, I'll probably change that, too...), but the rest of the sentence is garbage. 

So all I'm doing right now is going through each "was," page by page, fixing the ones where the solution comes to me right away, but not getting stuck staring at each one and feeling lost in a sea of "was." I think I'll do several sweeps before I consider this task done. If I can't figure one out, I move on to the next. It will certainly still be there when I do my next Ctrl+F. 

5 comments:

  1. Glad you're taking baby steps on blogging. I'm sure I have a zillion "was" to correct when I edit to. And "and" and "that."

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  2. I've never thought to check my 'was' usage. 'That' on the other hand is an old staple. I shall be adding it to my list - at least, I'll add 'is' because I'm in present tense :-)

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  3. Was is an annoying word to search and destroy when editing.

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  4. Was and felt are two words I am very aware of when writing, but there's others that slip in.

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  5. I used to have a sign by my computer with WAS and a red slash through it. Stop the "wases" was my motto."

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