Friday, March 2, 2012

There and There Was

    "Too many words clog the action and blunt the dramatic saber.--John Long, WRITERS LITTLE BOOK OF WISDOM.   
    Are you using a blunt saber by inadvertently employing expletives in your writing? 
    No, I'm not talking about profanity.  I'm talking about "a word or phrase that does not contribute any meaning but is added to fill out a sentence or which stands in place of and anticipates a following word or phrase."  Here are examples of such expletives:

    There was
    There was to be
    There were
    There were to be
    There are
    There is
    There will be
    There came to be
    There weren't
    The "expletive" is, of course, the word "there."  Like other red-flag words, "there" is overused in manuscripts.  Most often "there" appears at the beginning of a sentence or it will introduces a clause.  Needless to say, using "there" is ambiguous.  It's also passive writing, especially when linked with verbs like was, were, is, etc. 
    Not only does the use and overuse of "there" diminish clarity but it also tells or reports instead of showing through the Point of View and Viewpoint of the narrative.
    So, it's a good idea to add "there" to your Cheat Sheet To-Do List for revisions.  You do have such a personalized cheat sheet, don't you?

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Stop back to this blog on April 1 for The Sampler's: "Numbers."
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