Writing Tips: Avoid Weak Writing
I got the edits back for “Fright Train” this week, and my editor told me that I had a lot of instances of “there was / there is” in my text. I was flabbergasted. My jaw dropped to the floor, and it took a while to pick it up again. I had no idea I did that. Another thing to add to my endless list of things to watch for when self-editing before sending manuscripts to my editor. Great.
The verb “to be” is an example of a weak verb. It doesn’t really add anything to your text. You should try to avoid it as much as possible. Of course, sometimes it will be necessary to include the verb, or there’s simple no other way to say what you want to say, but in most cases, you can let it out, or replace it by a stronger verb. Let’s take an example.
There was a painting decorating the wall.
This is an easy one. We can ignore ‘there was’ alltogether, and just write the following.
A painting decorated the wall.
You’ll get the “to be” verb a lot of times when you’re writing descriptions. Here’s another one.
There was oil leaking out of the car.
You can easily change this to:
Oil leaked out of the car.
The main issue is that you may often overlook these occurences, especially in your own text. Try to do a search for all verb forms of “to be”. It could help you track down your weak sentences.