By Linda Yezak
Sometimes you can’t get around using “was,” but more often than not, it’s a sign of the author’s laziness. The verb is sluggish, blah, boring. It lacks pizzazz.
It’s time to whack it out of use as much as possible and replace it with active verbs and, if necessary, rewrite entire sentences to make the sentences more active.
We’ve talked on this site before about using past tense vs what I’ll call “continuous” past for this post. Continuous past means something was in progress, “he was stealing my notes,” instead of saying it had already happened: “he stole my notes.” When you’re using “was” as part of the verb tense, you can’t help it.
But usually, you can.
The house was on a lake-side lot about fifty miles away, but I was in my super-sonic, souped-up Jaguar and could make the distance in less than five minutes. Sure enough, in four point two minutes I was exiting the car and walking up the drive. The door was unlocked when I got to it, and I went in. The house was empty, so I made myself at home in the kitchen.
I was pouring the sauce over the spaghetti when she walked in. She was stunning in her navy power suit, and her hair was swept up beautifully. It was enough to make me stop what I was doing to watch her glide into the room.
Two paragraphs, ten uses of “was.” Ouch.