Monday, September 6, 2010

A Week of Ideas and Inspirations for Writing from the Pocket Muse

Whew...that was a long post title.
Every day this week I will be sharing my favorite excerpts from Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse- Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. I received this book as a gift (Thanks Catherine!) and whenever I feel down in the writerly dumps, reading a page or two from The Pocket Muse, lifts my creative spirits and enlightens me.

A Tip on Style

One way to enliven your prose is to avoid the use of the verb to be: am, are, is, was, were, etc. Very often you can trace a dull passage to the overuse of that pesky verb. Look at these two examples:

When she finally emerged from the house, Mary was stunned. The sun was blinding, but the weather was cold. All around her were frozen trees that had broken off at their waists. Everything was both beautiful and awful.

Eliminating the verb to be forces you to think about your method of expression, often yielding a more poetic and precise passage:

Mary emerged from the house, stunned by the blinding sun. The trees, broken off at their waists, lay over the yard, each naked branch encased in a sleeve of ice. The day felt both beautiful and awful.

Happy Writing!


  1. I love this Anita! It's great to reminded of great tips out there and I look forward to more of this little pocket book throughout the week!!!

    I found you over at Elana's blog but it seems we have quite a few friends in common!!! This blog trifecta is allowing me to meet new buddies! I love it!

  2. I'm still so guilty of 'was' overuse. I love seeing examples like this. It's not that hard to make our writing so much more vivid.