1. Ella_J
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    Ella_J New Member

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    Other words to use in place of...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ella_J, Jul 7, 2011.

    I've come across my habit for adding 'were' constantly. It's getting overused and it was hard to see till I started reading back once I finished one of the chapter's. I tried googling for lists of words to in their place, but nada. I could be missing it totally. If you guys could lend a hand here and give me some to use? :)
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Can you give an example of when you use 'were?'
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Use any active verb. It might require changing the sentence around a bit. There's loads of ways to do it.

    "She was cold" --> "Cold air bit through her jacket," etc. ("She felt cold" is really no better than "was" because you're not putting the reader inside the character)

    "The paperwork was boring" --> "Joe picked up the papers, already thinking about his coffee break as his head swam and his mouth watered with sleepy drool."

    "She was annoying" --> "I nodded along, thinking about the front door and hoping she'd walk through it soon. Her high, loud voice strained my ears."

    Some will tell you that you can replace "was" with "seemed," "felt," "looked" or some other word, but this is just as bad. It's vague and isn't the quality of writing that will immerse the reader in the story.

    This isn't to say that you should use long wordy descriptions, because that's not the case at all. But think about it: in a story, readers should be so immersed that they think they ARE the character while they're reading. So phrases like "he felt" will take them out of that, because you're reminding them that it's a story. Does that make sense? I tend to ramble, lol.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is not a matter of replacing verbs. It comes down to writing less passively. Use stronger actions in your sentences.

    Instead of "The houses on the street were all painted white or various shades of gray." You would drop the sentence entirely. Instead, you would incorporate the description into an action sentence that takes place on the street.

    "We cruised along the gray street, passing house after colorless house, trying to find number fourteen."
     
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  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    we can't really help without seeing how you've been using it... you'll need to provide some examples...
     
  6. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    1. were continuously

    2. were forever

    3. were habitually

    4. were always

    5. were invariably

    6. were eternally

    7. Were repeatedly

    8. Were perpetually

    9. were neverendingly

    10. Were obsessively

    11. Were persistently

    12. Were monotonously

    13. Were repetitiously

    14. were insistently

    15. Were consistently

    16. Were pestiferously

    17. Were incessantly

    18. Were unceasingly

    19. Were unendingly

    20. Were interminably

    21. Were unremitingly
     
  7. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    There's some good advice in here, but I wouldn't overthink it. I challenge you to open up any novel from your collection and count how many linking verbs the author uses in a single chapter. Let me know what you find.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Radrook, adding adverbs more often compounds problem than creates a solution in cases like this.
     
  9. The_Captain
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    The_Captain New Member

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    I wouldn't say so (I didn't take the time to check my novels though), mostly because I've already heard such advice in workshops. Besides that, a less passive sentence seems better from a reader's point of view.
     

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