The Deadly Three: Beginner Writing Mistakes

was were as - three deadly writing mistakesI see two common beginner-writer habits in works that I beta-read. One is using too much passive voice, and the other is using weak connectors. If you have a lot of “was” and “were” in your story, you are robbing your story of excitement and distancing readers from your character. Instead of “There were the sound of horns in the air”, try to make it feel more immediate by CHANGING that to an active sentence instead. ( “Horns rang out in the clearing”.)

Same with connectors like “as”. If you see “as” being used as a conjunction in your sentence (no pun intended), it’s a clear sign that you need to split your sentence into two sentences. “She braided her hair as Cimeon would want her to look tidy” feels more immediate if you write, “She braided her hair. Cimeon would want her to look tidy.”

When every page is full of “was” “were” and “as”, it turns beta reading into a real chore.

It’s one thing to use passive voice and weak connectors in your first drafts when you’re rushing to get your ideas down, but when you’re revising, do make a separate pass JUST looking for passive voice, weak connectors, and weak (unnecessary) words.

Your beta readers will LOVE you for it. (And so will your readers.)

  2 comments for “The Deadly Three: Beginner Writing Mistakes

  1. Richie Billing
    June 8, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Great post! I always wonder about ‘as’. I’ve grown to hate the word completely. Your examples are excellent!

    • Marya Miller
      June 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks, Richie. Glad it was helpful. 🙂

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