Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Many Genres Educational Tip from Heidi Ruby Miller
WHAT ARE BE VERBS?
The group we refer to as BE verbs are all forms and tenses of the verb to be. (am, are, is, was, were, been). It is one of the first verbs we learn in speech because it allows us to show identity simply and easily.
WHY SHOULD I AVOID OVERUSING BE VERBS?
They spoil the clarity of a character's actions.
They cause repetition within the work.
They often lead to passive voice.
They make your prose less interesting and engaging.
They make the work more difficult to read.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M OVERUSING BE VERBS?
Use the find feature in MS Word to find all of your BE verbs by clicking on FIND in your tool bar, then typing in the verb form: If you write in past tense, start by finding was; if you write in present tense, start with is. Go through all the forms and tenses and highlight all of your BE verbs so you can get a visual of the distribution.
HOW CAN I REPLACE BE VERBS?
It's simple: Change the BE verb to an action verb. It may be one you already have in the sentence with an –ing at the end of it (I was running through the streets. – I ran through the streets.).
For extra practice, try writing a paragraph in your current work without using any BE verbs. If you apply this guided practice over and over, eventually it will become a good writing habit.
NOTE: Sometimes BE verbs are necessary, especially in dialog. Make a judgment about whether a form of BE is the best verb to use in a particular sentence.
Articles in MGOC: "Tomorrow's Kiss: The Duality of SF Romance"
"The Shifting Grail: A Quest for a Good Read"
"Be an Archetype, Not a Stereotype"
"I'll Scratch Your Back and You Promote My Book"
Other Work: Ambasadora
You can order Many Genres, One Craft, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller, through any of your favorite book sellers, including Amazon.