1. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca

    How do you remove and and was from your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by architectus, Jan 22, 2009.

    I am wondering when you edit your work, how do you remove and and to be verbs from your writing?

    Some examples are:
    His mother skipped in from the kitchen and hugged his dad.

    His mother that skipped in from the kitched, hugged his dad.
    I almost wonder if and is stronger in this case than that, so long as the paragraph does have a lot of ands in it already.
    He set his work suitcase down next to the coat rack and loosened his blue tie.

    loosening his blue tie, he set his work suitcase down next to the coat rack.
    What do you feel is the best way to remove and?
    The boys were frightened and ran away.

    The boys, frightened, ran away.

    The frightened boys ran away.

    The last example slightly changes the meaning, though. However, both remove the to be verb and the word and.
    The food looked and smelled great.

    The great smelling food looked good.

    Then he gripped Clay's neck with his large hand and slammed him against the wall.

    Then, after he gripped Clay's neck with his large hand, he slammed him against the wall.

    Then, gripping Clay's neck with his large hand, he slammed him against the wall.

    The problem is I don't want to use too many ing words, so I try to stay away from them.
    Clay was all too familiar with these conversations.

    Clay heard all these conversations before.

    Suddenly, there was a loud crash at the front door.

    Suddenly, a loud crash boomed in the living room.

    I am looking forward to some of your examples and advice.
     
  2. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    Like that I think 'and' flows better. It might change based on the paragraph its in though like you said. "His mother that skipped" just sounds so unnatural.

    I prefer the and option again though I could think there'd be a better way to write that. Setting down the suitcase and loosening the tie are two separate actions (as opposed to getting up to hug someone, which is a cause and effect sort of thing a conjunction works well with). I would make each action a separate sentences personally.

    I can't really pick between them. I think depending on the overall style of the writing and what's happening any one of these might be better suited than the others. EDIT: On second thought, I think the 'and' sentence here is not as good as the other two.

    I know I probably over use and (really, really really overuse). Looking at my stuff when I first write it there's a and nearly every other sentence. I don't care to much for over word use as long as it doesn't end up making the prose feel awkward. Sometimes though I think the trial of trying to diversify the writing to avoid certain things might be more trouble than it's worth. If the sentence sounds better with an and just use the and. If it sounds better with five of them use five of them (I doubt that would really happen though). I just say use whatever wording will be the best at achieving good clarity and flow.
     
  3. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    While not all of these sentences are fabulous, there is nothing genuinely wrong with the "and" sentences on their own. There is also nothing wrong with having some sentences like that as long as you aren't using it in every other sentence. Without knowing the context and other information I could put into the sentence, I'm not sure how to suggest changes here. If you post a story, I'd be willing to make a point of looking at that in my review. On the other hand, I think lordofhats is right. Putting a lot of effort into getting rid of the word is probably more trouble that it's worth.
     
  4. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    I am not asking for comments on the samples I have provided. Rather, I am asking for how everyone else removes and, and to be verbs from their writing, or how they avoid over using them.

    I learn best by example, so if you could provide your own examples that would be great.
     
  5. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    This.

    --

    Don't focus on how many ands you have. Focus on how it sounds to your ear. If you have too many ands, your ear will pick up on it and then you'll decide to change it. Don't go through your manuscript picking out words like 'and' and thinking about how to remove them when that's unnatural and unnecessary.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    "The boys scattered." Don't tell the reader that the boys are frightened, it's completely unnecessary. Let the reader see it from context.

    The problem isn't necessarily one of snipping out weak words. The problem is often that the sentence itself began with flab. This particularly true of forms of "to be." All too often, you're just making a sentence tp contain adjectives and adverbs that are better inserted into surrounding texty, if they are even needed at all.
     
  7. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    Can't say much for to be verbs but usually with and it can be gotten rid of by removing the conjunction and leaving the phrases as two different sentences. Of course sometimes sentences are better together which is when you put that and on in there.

    Off the top of my head I'd write that as: "He set his briefcase down next to the coat rack. He turned to the kitchen, his hands loosening his blue tie."

    If you wanted to dump the to be bit I'd change it further too: "He set his briefcase on the floor by the coat rack. He turned to the kitchen, his hands loosening his blue tie."

    Sorry for the added stuff but I had to switch it into what made the most sense to me.
     
  8. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Cog, the boys were frightened and ran away is a sentence from my grammar book. I couldn't think of more examples.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Missing the point. The point is not to bandaid the sentence, but to rethink it completely. "To be" sentences are often unnecessary static description or "telling". Many 'and" sentences are combining actions that should each have its own sentence.
     
  10. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    Sorry. I didn't see this before I posted the first time.

    As far as the 'to be' verbs go, I found this link has some useful examples. http://www.sdstate.edu/writingcenter/To%20be%20Verbs.htm#To%20be%20Verbs

    Here's an example I came up with:

    Here's another:

    Hehe.

    The link I gave says both examples are correct, but the first one in each case is boring because it uses a 'to be' verb.

    I will admit, this exercise has made me think about my own writing.

    Better: I will admit, this exercise really made me examine my writing.
     
  11. Daedalus
    Offline

    Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    South Armagh, Ireland.
    Why would you want to remove "and"? I can understand wanting to remove "was" because it's passive, but "and" is a conjunction and an entirely necessary one in writing. Without it, your work will become monotonous very quick. Take a look at these two examples:

    Jack removed his coat, walked into the kitchen, and sat at the table.

    Jack removed his coat. He walked into the kitchen. He sat at the table.

    Starting every sentence with "he" gets monotonous very quickly.

    As for removing the word "was": There are some times when you can't remove it from a particular sentence without re-wording.

    Jack was an only son.

    Jack had grown up without a sibling.


    They're both telling, but that's another issue.
     
  12. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    I wasn't commenting on the sentences. I was saying that it's easier to suggest how to change the sentences within context of a paragraph so I would know what makes sense. And again, thats not the point I was making, anyway. The point is that it's something to be aware of but not necessarily worry about unless someone actually tells you that it's a problem.
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if you learn how to write good sentences from the git-go, you won't have to 'remove' anything like that...
     
  14. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    The entire reason these forums exist is to help aspiring writers get better at their craft. It is not helpful to tell someone that if they already knew what to do, they would not need improvement. In fact, it actually has the opposite effect.
     
  15. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    This does not mean that the second option is necessarily better. While the first sentence allows the visuals to form in the reader's mind, the second deals plainly shows the incident through the visual actions and gesture. The first statement forces the readers into simulating the visual portraits by creating the images, in the head, while the second is more spoon-feeding the readers, showing them what to see and how to think. There is no liberation.

    In other words, you need an infusion of both to achieve a fluid, unbesmirched style of writing, free from clutters. They're both "showing." You need a moderation of both to have that natural, refined flow in your prose.
     
  16. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    The second sentence is "better" in the sense that it does not include a 'to be' verb. See the link and the OP for more. I basically copied the format of the website's examples. They gave an original sentence that contained a 'to be' verb like 'was' and then gave a second Better: sentence, which was rewritten to avoid using a 'to be' verb.

    Other than that, I make no claims about which one is more evocative or show v. tell, etc.
     
  17. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    The technicality, I see where you're going. But as an entire sentence, there is no deciding factor which is better or not. Both sentence are showing, even if the first one has to be. What I am cautious about is telling others never to use a simile or metaphor, cause that's how you sound like across the board.
     
  18. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    The problem with heeding advices from "websites" is the popular myth that there is some kind of secret ingredient to great storytelling. The so called, "if you follow this method, you'll be on the NY Times Bestseller," which is a bunch of hocus-pocus.

    So all the techniques and tricks you learn in writing, you should lay them to use to enhance your story and enrich your characters, not to follow them like it was set in stone. Everything have variables. When to pull back, when to show, when to describe in details, when to gloss over time and create elipses. It all depends on the mood, theme, atmosphere of the story, whether there will be more telling than showing, more showing than telling, or a mixture of both equally. It's not just cut and paste: the so called--avoid all "telling," avoid all "was," never use "and," avoid colorful adjectives, not bland ones. Do you get what I'm saying?

    You need to know when the best time is to do more showing than telling or telling than showing. This is what separates the good from the great, and the great from the masters.
     
  19. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    The OP said:

    He asked how to avoid using to be verbs and specifically asked for examples. That's what I gave him. I wasn't standing on a soapbox telling him never use and or was or anything else.

    In fact, if you look at my first post in this thread, you'd see I said this:

    So yeah, it's all about what works. If it sounds good and it's clear and accessible, then it doesn't necessarily matter what the 'rules' say.

    However, I will defend the experts. Most of the rules you hear are there because they make for better writing, not because they were written by tyrants or egomaniacs who thought they knew better than everyone else. I think the examples stand for themselves, and I'd say that more times than not, avoiding to be verbs is probably the way to go.
     
  20. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Well, it's a bad example (borderlining crap, in my opinion) to show the difference between active and passive voice.
     
  21. sorites
    Offline

    sorites Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    2
    ???

    Are you saying that the example(s) I gave show the difference between active and passive voice, and you think they are crap?

    Or are you saying that you think the concept of active/passive voice and the idea that one might be better than the other is crap?
     
  22. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Unfortunately...

    If you had basic English and Grammar classes you will know how to write a good sentence. Everyone raves about the Shrunk and White book; however, it's nothing less then a review of basic English/Grammar. There's a whole sentence to completes a thought without needed and/or/but....
     
  23. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i thought it would be clear to all that my statement was a general one, not aimed at anyone in particular, but just referring to writing, period... if the person you think was maligned [the op] feels as you do about it, sorites, i'll be happy to apologize to him for the misunderstanding...
     
  24. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Sorites, thank you. Some of those examples will stick with me. BTW, showing the size of the octopus in a real setting like ripping the fire hydrant is better in my opinion. I would much rather read a novel that describes everything like that.

    Daedalus, the reason I wish to remove some ands from my writing is because I tend to overuse them at times. I don’t want paragraphs consisting of only simple sentences that start with a noun, and, and conjunctions.

    Maia, but that doesn’t help me at all, lol.

    I would like to think Sorites again for giving me examples.

    And the blade was flat and curved.

    If you had to rewrite this sentence to remove the word was, how would you do it? When I write sentences like this, I think they could be worded better, but they stump me. I can’t think of a better way to paint this image.

    I ended up combining a few sentences to rewrite this sentence. I think it turned out okay.

    He held the flat and curved blade out in front of him, twisting it around.
     
  25. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    if you're going to take the "and" out...

    Why not write it as:

    He twisted the flat, curved blade around in his hand.
     

Share This Page