Literary Engineer
Because reading and writing are my only obsessions

Sloppy Writing 101.53

 
To be verbs. They always show up on the list of words you should avoid. To be verbs can often make a sentence weak or passive. And many sentences can be improved by using a stronger verb. A more descriptive word.
 
So the ones you want to look for are: is/am/are/was/were/be/been/being. Here are some of my examples from The Proper Way to Say Goodbye that I changed.
 
-Being a shrink, he was an expert in interrogation techniques.
Being a shrink qualified him as an expert in interrogation techniques.
 
-Most of the room had cleared before my bag was packed.
I packed my bag while most of the room cleared.
 
- Her face and voice were never far from my mind.
Her delicate face and sexy voice never strayed far from my mind.
 
-and I committed to running every morning, no matter how hard it was.
and I committed to running every morning, no matter how hard.
 
-This was ridiculous.
Ridiculous.
 
You can see how getting rid of the was/were makes and replacing it with a better verb makes a stronger sentence. Was is one of my tough words. I’ve gone through trying to eliminate them. It’s a lot of work, but hopefully my writing is a little better because of it.

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