This week instead of my babbling, I’m going to post up a guest blog from the author “George Lasher”. His story, “The Forgetful Wizard” has appeared in two of our published anthologies: “Under the Stairs” and “Damn Faeries”. Thank you for writing in, George!
I started writing in 2000 by penning a fan-fiction, Batman novel. Having proved to myself that I could write and that I enjoyed writing, I wrote a second novel, Telemurdering.
This time the story revolved around characters of my own invention. The euphoria of completing that novel gave away to the pain of rejection from the world of literary agents. The most frustrating thing about the rejections is that they never explained why. Eager to improve, I joined the Houston Writers Guild and began to learn why my stories weren’t getting accepted: the two big reasons were the words, “was” and “had.”
I didn’t know and I think many novice writers are unaware that the word, “was” is viewed as a weak verb of being. “Was” prevents, rather than provides, description which might further pull readers into my stories. Here’s an example that clicked with me:
Bob said he was sick.
Bob said he felt like he might throw up.
Big difference! I try not to use the word “was,” unless no alternative exists. Now let’s take a look a the word, “had.”
“Had” removes the reader from being “in the moment” with the character. Readers like to be in the moment, rather than always reading about actions that already occurred.
Bob had been thinking about going home for the holidays.
Bob considered going home for the holidays.
I now understand that Literary agents aren’t in the business to teach us how to write. They post loads of helpful information on their websites, but rather than teaching, their job is to represent those who already know how to write. Personally, I’m still learning, but I have seen a number of my short stories published over the past two years. I feel confident that I will become a published novelist in the near future. I wish that learning to eliminate “had” and “was” could get us all published, but the path to publication is filled with additional potholes, twists, and turns.
Writing is so much like competing in any sport; the required level of dedication is immense. The world doesn’t care about the many disadvantages we face and if we can’t overcome them through practice and perseverance, we won’t be successful. But if we love to write and are willing to put in the time and effort, we may become the author of a bestseller.
George R. Lasher
- Rejection from a Literary Agent (mjcache.wordpress.com)
- Wanna be a writer… need credibility (mjcache.wordpress.com)
- Why do you write? (marshasusantracy.wordpress.com)
- Notes for young writers via Annie Dillard. (enlightenedbean.wordpress.com)