I have been working to eliminate WAS from my manuscript. Here is a sample of a paragraph before and after:
A moment later another furry stepped out from behind a tree nearby. The new comer was female and not quite as tall as the male, but nearly the same color of gray. Roe found herself unable to react.
A moment later a female furry, not quite as tall as the male but sporting the same grey fur, stepped out from behind a tree nearby. Roe found herself unable to react.
It is a small change but it adds up when you make 1200 edits across a manuscript to stop it from being such a passive read it adds more action.
Another example: (WERE is a form of he word WAS)
Just then a shape lunged out of the grass next to her. Then two more followed. They were small and flew right past her face. It was so sudden that Tusa’An launched herself backwards in reaction. She was rewarded with pain across her entire body radiating out from her chest. Even through the pain though, she was relieved. It was only birds.
Just then a small shape came up out of the grass next to her and flew right past her face. Two more of these followed. The shock of it caused Tusa’An to launch herself backwards to which her body rewarded her with a blast of pain across her chest that radiated out through her whole body. She then realized that birds had just caused her start. She felt both silly and relieved.
I started with 1400 instances of WAS. As of this writing I am now down to 570
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A Life in After World: Roe new cover art
I am setting forth on a new journey in editing today. I am about to release a second edition of my book with a new cover so I am re-editing my book. One of the steps I am taking is getting rid of the words was and were. When I started editing earlier today I figured I could get this done in no time. I did a word count and found that out of over 72,000 the word was appeared over 1400 times. That is nearly 2% of my novel! Gah! and it is not just so simple to delete it and replace it with another word. I have to rewrite the sentence it is in and make sure it still makes sense and that it still fits with the sentences around it. Some are easy, take this example:
Just then, Sa’An heard a noise nearby, short and quick, it was a snapping of a branch.
I would rewrite this like:
Just then, Sa’An heard a noise nearby, a short and quick snapping of a branch.
But some sentences are just tough to figure out how to reword.
This was another trait of their people, early development.
I have to tear the whole sentence down and essentially rewrite it instead of just dropping a couple of words.
As another trait of her people, she developed at a rapid pace.
Why get rid of was? Using was is a crutch to passive voice. It takes the life out of your writing. I have replaced around 75 instances so far and have many more to go.
What is next after this? Adverbs!