Friday, May 7, 2010

A TELLING STORY

If you’re a writer, you know the mantra, “show, don’t tell.”
And I do know.
But obviously not well enough.
The other day while having coffee with my writer friends...
We were talking about how we all use Microsoft Word’s “find” option…
To find redundancies in our manuscripts.
Someone then mentioned  “finding” all the “was’”…
And see how many we have.
Why?
Too many “was’” = “telling,” not “showing.
So as soon as I got home
I opened up my W.I.P. and made Word find all my “was.’”
I was sure that I hadn’t overused–
OMG!
“Was” was hi-lited on every page like literary vomit!
Clearly, I could see that the "was'" in my manuscript…
Were nothing more than lazy story-telling.
Obviously I know “was” is not the only verb that “tells” rather than “shows…
And it’s impossible to eliminate all the “was’"...
But it’s definitely an easy "find and fix"method.
So if anyone else knows of other verbs...
Or other "find and fix"methods...
For lazy story-telling...
I'd love for you to share them with me.

Always, Em-Musing

4 comments:

Lynn said...

I've now read twice today about MS words 'find' feature. A little fearful of trying it out. I want to stay in a good mood! But I bet if you did the same on a prize-winning novel, you'd find redundancies,too, particularly the classics. It's a fine balance, for sure.

Breeze said...

Great too, that find feature...try your luck with the "ends in ly" adverbs lol. It is a balance...but was is rather passive and does slow things down :)

Just did a search through the first paragraphs of my first draft of my novel...not a was in the house :) It does become easier and almost second nature with practice.

Breeze said...

I use was in suspense btw..sparingly but I find it brings an air of "waiting for something" that can be useful. Otherwise, I try to stay as active as possible. Usually this comes out if second draft though.

Lisa said...

What a great post! Your comment at Rachelle Gardner's made me laugh so I had to come and see your blog. Now I'm terrified to open my manuscript because I know. I KNOW. Good thing I'm still in the editing stages anyway!

Thanks for the tip on the find feature. I use it often but not for searching out lazy writing.